Fire at Gibson’s Landing

On Loss and Discovery

Last Friday while I was in the car driving my youngest son back from soccer I caught a clip on the radio, something about the main road into Gibson’s being blocked off, about taking alternate routes, about flames reaching 100 feet into the air, about the sorry loss of heritage buildings.

My stomach twisted into the knot as I tried to stay focused on the road, on the lights, on the cars around me.  I was in motion, and I had to get home with my son.  I kept the radio on, I waited for more, but nothing.  I checked my phone for messages, for news, for a text.  Nothing.  It was all happing as I drove, nothing was up yet,  not that I could find on my blackberry.

When I parked in front of the house, my phone chirped.  It was a text from my sister.  “Check the news tonight,” she said, “my house just went up in flames.  I’ve lost everything.”  She was in San Diego, so was only able to see it all at a distance, to learn of it in 40 characters  of text, or email.

I quickly found out that no one was hurt, all the dogs and cats had gotten out.  This was a relief. I can only imagine what she must be going through right now while she waits to return.

Over the long weekend in May I was in her apartment taking in the quiet view out to the water,  and admiring the gardens below.  It was peaceful, lovely.

A view from Heather’s window.

Through the willow, over the garden, across the water.

Finn Played on the swing strung from a willow in the yard.  We walked along the shore past the marine building, filled with the stuff left over from years of fixing boats.  We peeked into the secret garden in the empty lot next to the marine building; it looked promising with shoots peeking above the soil in the boxes, laid out in rows.

I thought about what a good place she had chosen to be.  Her home was pure white, sparsely decorated; her neighbours were old friends; and the road above was impossible to hear from the water-side of the building.  She had just move there a few months prior, and it was the first time I’d been up to the coast from Vancouver.

When Things are Gone

What remains after a physical loss?  I have thought about this extensively over the past few years as the loss of identity, ability, and capacity have intersected my personal world.  Her loss differs as it is the mementoes, the musical equipment, the physical space and shelter, and more that she has lost, but loss is no less profound.  It is the time for reassessment, for grieving, for setting a new course.  All of this will take time for each person affected by this fire.

I am so thankful that no lives were lost, and sorry that she won’t be able to peer out her window through branches of the willow to the sea.  The buildings may be gone, the view remains, and so do all of those to take it in everyday.  My thoughts are with them, and mostly, my sister.

My Youngest Son and My Youngest Sister

Today Heather, my sister, posted a photo after sifting through the wreckage.  I find it sad, poetic, hopeful and full of truth.  Sheet music.  It is fragile, yet eternal.  The paper ignites at 451 degrees, yet the notes on the page, when played, ignite hearts, inspire, and last forever so long as there are those who want to play the music.  The burnt page is a reminder of our temporary existence here, our own fragility, yet we need to find our own art, our own music that ignites our hearts and inspires.  I trust that great beauty will come of this wreckage–in time.

Music Amid the Ruins



Filed under British Columbia, events, family, lorrie_miller

2 responses to “Fire at Gibson’s Landing

  1. How tragic, Lorrie. The picture of the music breaks my heart. It is those things – the invaluable things – that we can never replace. My best to your sister.

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