It always happens to someone else until it happens to you.
The devastation of the B.C. wildfires hit home on Aug. 18, when our family cabin in the Shuswap went up in flames.
Through photos sent to us from a neighbour’s door camera, we anxiously watched as the flames came down the hill and approached the group of cabins. It was heart-wrenching, but we held a glimmer of hope that, somehow, our cabin would be spared. That wish was shattered the next day and replaced with despair when photos taken from the lake showed that nothing was left beyond the foundation.
The anguish we — and everyone else in the area who lost a cabin, permanent home or business — felt was immense. Our cabin was more than a physical structure surrounded by beautiful nature. It was a happy place, a sanctuary, a place where we hoped future memories would be made that matched the wonderful past memories.
Losing the 90-year-old cabin, which had been in our family for 46 years, is equivalent to losing a family member. We are going through the same grieving process, with the same intensity. We are currently in that terrible phase of grappling to accept the fact the cabin and the surroundings cease to exist.
It is gone. It will never be again. This is a hard pill to swallow.
The heartbreak is made even worse because what happened to us happened to so many people. Of the eight cabins in our area, only one is left standing. This means our group of close-knit neighbours could change, depending on whether people decide to rebuild.
There are so many questions. Will we all sell together to a large developer who will build ugly multi-level condos that will change the iconic small cabin look in the Shuswap? Will some of us rebuild, while others sell, thereby changing the group dynamic as strangers buy the land? Will we all rebuild and patiently wait over the decades for the surrounding nature to grow back to the beauty that it once was?
Most of us will be gone by the time that happens, but there is at least hope that the younger generations and their children will once again experience the magic of the place.
Kamloops and long time Shuswap resident