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Paul Wellman (file)

Ashes to Ashes and Dreams to Dust

Snow-Like Flakes from Thomas’s Path of Destruction


Thomas, you covered our skies with shades of grays and left us in darkness. You sent brilliant colors of oranges, yellows, and reds dancing high in our skies. You traveled over 40 miles, blazing a path of destruction and devastation. Yes, Thomas, you are the worst fire in California history, and you made us aware of that. You covered our streets, our cars, and our homes with gray, snow-like flakes. Unfortunately, this snow-like substance was toxic and very unhealthy. These snow-like flakes did not melt, but instead turned into dust and floated in the breeze. You took our air and made it harmful and difficult for us to breathe, and, yes, Thomas, you also brought tears to our eyes.

One thing you did for some of us was make us aware of our blessings. For me, the awareness of my blessings came while listening to some friends complaining about your devastation. They were telling me that they could not work and that objects stored in their backyard were covered in ashes and their cars were also covered in ashes. Perhaps I complained myself, after all, I am 69 years old, disabled, I have COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], my car was also covered in ashes, and Thomas, you did disrupt my life. Then all of a sudden, God opened my eyes and He touched my heart and made me realize my selfishness. I had not lost anything, was not hurt, and was not in any immediate danger of your ferociousness. As I looked at your snow-like presence that covered everything, I realized it was not just ashes and dust; it was someone’s home lying on the ground, maybe it was a child’s playhouse or a tree fort. This was someone’s dreams floating in the air. Some of these dreams people had been saving for and building almost all their lives, and Thomas, you stole all of it from them.

Your flammable roar also took a heroic and courageous firefighter from us. He was a father, a man of integrity, a man who faced your ferocity, but lost the battle he trained for, lived for, and died for. He is a person who will be honored in our minds and hearts forever. Thomas, you also stole the life of a woman who was trying to escape your wrath. The people of Santa Paula and others will always remember how you took the life of one of our sisters. You made us aware of the honorable, courageous, and dedicated firefighters and first responders. These heroes persevered and challenged you with their lives and all their strength. Some were our local heroes and some traveled from far away to argue with you, to fight with you, to save lives and structures, and in some cases, save dreams.

Your savageness blazed away trees, vegetation, homes, and turned them into ashes. Thomas, your fire of phantasm, evilness, and destruction created such a negative situation for Mother Nature to rain down Her wrath of fury, which moved mud, trees, and boulders, that tore away at parts of the beautiful village of Montecito. Homes, structures, and even cars were pushed all the way down to where the ocean meets the sand. Thomas, you allowed Mother Nature to sweep away the lives of men, women, and young, innocent children.

Thomas, you and Mother Nature were viewed around the world. People from other states and other countries were saddened by the devastation they were watching on TV. Some cried and some prayed for the city of Montecito, for the families and friends of the lives that you took from this world. Beautiful homes and estates that once dotted the glamour of Montecito are now landscapes of mud and unsightly boulder gardens. Your devastation was the catalyst of Mother Nature’s wrath that transformed this tranquil city into mountains of mud and rock. You stole the dreams of people who have saved for many years. You have taken things that cannot be replaced or may take years, even decades to rebuild or reassemble, and some may not have the will to go forward.

As my thoughts were spinning around my head about this situation, it saddened me and made me damned mad that you were the creator that caused these tragedies to occur. The people of Montecito and others are grateful for the prayers, but Thomas, those of us who did not lose anything or anyone really feel the sadness or the sorrow of the people who lost their loved ones in this disaster.

Thomas, you have taken a lot from us. What you did not take from us is what God has instilled in us. You have united us together, and we have become stronger, more determined, and we will always persevere and rebuild. Survival is a trait in our human nature that God has given all of us. Thomas, from you and Mother Nature’s cruelty emerged a compassionate army of volunteers, willing to donate their hard work and take time out of their lives to help remove the remnants of you. In the eyes of our losses and through the destruction, we will always be the people who God has intended us to be. With watery eyes and heavy hearts that now have become smiles and with determination we will be the conquerors. The combined energy and passion of the compassionate army and others we will make Montecito beautiful again.

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