I still can't read the newspaper without crying. Today it was the first coverage of the memorial services (some families can't even have funerals as there are no bodies to bury/cremate) - the 21 year old twins who lost their brother and both parents, clinging to each other and sobbing. Or the brother and sister who sang their parents' wedding song at their memorial service.
It puts your shitty day at work into perspective eh?
Death toll is 210, but there are many people still on the 'missing' list who will have to be transferred to the 'deceased' list sooner or later. Strathewen lost 1 in 4 people from its population. Families from the boys' schools have lost their homes, a teacher lost his father ... 'lost' is such a gentle unassuming word for such a devastating trauma.
Speaking of words, I'm joining others in the plea to stop referring to those affected by the fires as 'victims'. 'Survivors' is more accurate. Language is a powerful tool and sometimes the term victim can affect one's dignity. There have been some interesting discussions in the schoolyard lately pertaining to the ethics of charity and the unspoken expectation that receivers of charity 'should' show gratitude. It's a delicate one for both sides I reckon.
The elder boys' school had a bushfire drill last week. I asked them what it comprised and was informed 'When the siren goes, you all go to your own classroom, four monitors fill buckets and put them in the corners (luckily each classroom has a sink and tap and presumably several buckets), the rest of the class put all the tables into the centre of the room, everyone puts their jumpers on and gets under the cave of tables. If bits of the room catch on fire you throw the bucket of water at it. You stay down low in case of smoke.'
I just heard about the upcoming big bushfire relief concert featuring the most incredible line up of bands. Lots of bands I've vaguely heard of but don't really know (ie. bands and singers popular after 1993) but also, get this, Split Enz (!), Midnight Oil (!) (ok enough exclamation marks because I'm about to put one after every single band listed), Hunters and Collectors, Icehouse (!) (I used to have a major crush on Iva Davies when he was in his short hair and brocade smoking jacket phase so the exclamation mark remains), Paul Kelly, Hoodoo Gurus (I saw them at the Armadale pub circa 1987 - best gig ever), Coldplay, Jet, you name em, they're there. Multiple exclamation marks. All performing for free.
I was at home yesterday with the radio and CFA website both going all day. The radio interrupted programming to say there was an urgent fire threat at Upwey and Belgrave. I'd been glancing out the window all day and seen nothing, but at this news I shifted my position so the blind spot behind the large gum tree here ...
was revealed, and saw this ...
Which made me a bit jumpy. At the same time, the siren at the end of the road went off again, making me jump and the dog bark. Luckily for us here the wind doesn't blow from the east but houses were lost in Belgrave and some firefighters injured.
I'm nervous about this Friday which is the next scary forecast day.
In other news, my little hand knitted porkers went to a local four year old girl whose home and toys were lost in the fires.
And the baby of our family turned ten. I'll probably take this photo down in a day or two but wanted to share it for a minute. His hand is blurry because he was waving away the enormous amount of smoke generated by ten candles. Smoke being the theme around here at the mo.