Now this post is not my usual as you can probably tell straight away from the photo above but it is something that I think I am ready to share and I can't think of a better bunch of people to share it with than you, my readers!
I had a beautiful client of mine open up to me the other day about some horrible things that have happened to her and I was left a little gobsmacked because we honestly have no idea the traumas or experiences that people around us have been through. She is a tough women and it made me realise the ability we have as humans to keep on keeping on even when things get tough.
Something that some of you may know and some of you may not know, I used to be a volunteer fire fighter with the Country Fire Authority (CFA) for about 5 years, I am still a CFA volunteer but as a non-operational member.
This year I will be awarded an amazing medal which is something I never ever thought I would receive because I never thought I would do anything to deserve one. It is the National Emergency Medal for the 2009 Victorian Bushfires (aka Black Saturday).
Now me talking about Black Saturday has always been difficult because of the horrendous nature of the event. But recently I started reading a book called 'Kinglake 350' which is a police officers story from Black Saturday, mind you I am finding it very hard to read as I have my own story of this time too and it brings it all back. But I feel as though I need to now share it with others, because we all have our secrets that have affected us more than maybe we show.
Here is my little tale...
On Friday 6th February 2009 the evening felt weird and as a CFA fire fighter we were all well aware of the warnings about the following day. When I got home that Friday night the air felt odd, it was so calm and still and I remember saying to my Dad (also a fire fighter) "It is the calm before the storm". Little did I know how true that statement would be the next day.
On Saturday 7th February 2009, I had a friend down from Sydney who I was playing tour guide to so I wasn't able to be on stand by if a call came in to the fire station. I now know this is a God send because I would have been on a truck that was right in the middle of the havoc that this fire caused and I don't know what other damage that would have done to me mentally if I saw what they saw.
At around 3pm, my Mum called to say that Dad was out at a fire in Wallan and apparently it was a bad one; I raced home with my friend to see what was going on. As soon as we entered the house we turned on our radio scanner to listen in on what was happening and this is when we heard the extent of this fire and the absolute fear it was causing.
May-day's were coming in left, right and centre; these were people I knew and I didn't know if they would be alright. This was the most terrifying and upsetting radio I have ever listened to...
The following day after Victoria was battered and burnt with reports of casualties, I went and did night shift out on the fire ground. We were driving around and blacking-out around Mt Disappointment trying to make sure all the fire was out all while ABC radio was on in the background giving us hourly updates of the number of people assumed dead...it just kept growing and growing each hour. This fire was bad!!
I went out another couple of times in the days that followed and one particular shift I was on, we were told to go to Coombs Road in Kinglake West. This we knew was one of the hardest hit streets with 10 people confirmed dead on this one stretch of road. As we drove up the mountain it looked as though we were on another planet; everything was black and ash layered the ground. All the life from this once beautiful road was destroyed. There were no animals, no leaves and the breeze just made a groaning sound through the trees or should I say trunks because all the leaves were gone...I had never seen anything like it before. It really was creepy.
The houses where people were found deceased were marked with police tape and it seemed house after house had this, the true extent of this fire started to make itself really known to me. It was so sad and so emotional. At the same time as this, every now and then you would see a house still standing or a wooden cubby house untouched even though the ground around it was black; it was amazing how it survived.
Seeing some of the things I saw and experienced is nothing to what others witnessed on the actual day of Black Saturday but all I know is that this event will remain with me for the rest of my life. So much so I got the yellow ribbon tattooed on my body as a reminder because I never want to forget the 173 people that died that day.
I have come to realise it is ok to be scarred, this is a part of me and if I hadn't experienced it then I wouldn't be the person I am today. I want you to know that what ever trauma you have been through, no matter how big or small, it is your scar to bare and it has made you stronger in ways you may never know.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below and please forward it on to your friends if you feel the need to.
Much love as always,