I just want to cry

I just want to cry to relieve this ache in my chest that feels like my heart will burst. The Thomas fires have devastated parts of my town, peoples’ lives, animals’ lives, and left us remaining in an unrelenting hill of toxic smoke. We evacuated for 5 days and upon returning are pretty much home bound with our HEPA filters running day and night. Masks don our faces when we dare to venture out into the ash falling snow. I’m fixated on facebook where reports are posted and networking occurs. It’s here during this time that we are experiencing the best of the human condition: the heroic firefighters working round the clock; the selfless people reaching out to strangers albeit neighbors in this small town to help in any way they can (giving money, clothes, food, opening their homes, etc.); acts of kindness large and small that leave me breathless. And we see some of the worst of the human condition: looting, employers firing their workers without cause, etc.

Last night I saw a woman post something on facebook in one of the network groups (there are many) that her husband lost his job and they have four children with nothing to give them for Christmas. She left her phone number. I phoned her, mentioned my name and said I’d like to give you some money for your children for Christmas. I told her we don’t have children and I’d like to adopt them for the holidays. She, her husband, and the four adorable young ones came to our home last night and we handed her an envelope and all of them chocolate bars we had in the house. The kids were quiet to begin with but by the end of the evening they were running around the entire house in circles, giggling and playing. Then the spontaneous hugs and kisses came. The littlest girl grabbed my legs in a hug before she left. I can still feel the warmth of that moment. I can still feel the love we shared with complete strangers who for a brief moment in time became family.

The fire still surrounds Ojai in parts and ash filled smoke lingers in the air as the flames move up the coast toward Santa Barbara. My heart still aches and I still want to cry for all of those impacted and suffering, despite their smiles, despite their incredible resilience, despite their best attempts to rise up in gratitude for being alive because underneath is the lurking impact of the trauma we all share.

About The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for "gross indecency" under Britian's recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When the news of Wilde's conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wildes' imprisonment. It is chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing. Paulette Mahurin, the author, is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two dogs--- Max and Bella. She practices women's health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time. All profits from her book are going to animal rescue, Santa Paula Animal Shelter, the first and only no-kill shelter in Ventura County, CA, where she lives. (see links below on Ventura County Star Article & Shelter) To find out more please go the The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap on facebook or Amazon or e-mail us at the gavatar addresses. Thank you. (photos: of Paulette, her family, and a reading at The Ojai Art Center, July 2012)
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102 Responses to I just want to cry

  1. davidprosser says:

    I’m glad children are so resiliant. Not so the parents you were so kind to and obviously not yourselves either. I hope things start returning to normally soon and that the fires are controlled and defeated.
    Thank you for constantly restoring my faith in human nature.
    Happy Holidays.
    Huge Hugs

  2. You two are just super people….
    I cannot begin to understand the scale of the misery around you…both physical and emotional…but I would be making a list of those employers making unjust layoffs in order to boycott their firms.

  3. Jean-Jacques says:

    I can but feel your pain, and share your tears Paulette, for what you, your neighbours and your friends and fellow citizens are experiencing. We can only hope the end of this physical and mental torture is at an end, and your lives comes back to normal, dear friend.

    • Thank you so much. For now, the end is not in sight. Not for the flames nor the ashes and smoke. And when the fires settle down we’re told that the toxic ash and smoke will linger for weeks. From this we living through this are getting a tiny taste of what it must be like in a battle zone. Your loving support means the world to me. ❤

  4. I’m so sorry for all your losses in this terrible time – of the feeling of safety, of your neighbourhood and community, of clean air, of peace of mind. It has me near tears – the tragedy, and the kindnesses. What beautiful spirits you and your husband are Paulette to help that family. I hope they have a wonderful Christmas. I hope that you do to, as best you can under the circumstances. Be safe.
    Alison xoxox

  5. I have been waiting to hear from you. Last I heard was when you were evacuating. Your fires have temporarily dropped off the news cycle, so it’s hard to know what’s happening, but I figured the fires were still burning since no one had news to the contrary.

    It’s wonderful that you are taking care of each other. Hard times do bring out the strength in all of us. There will probably be a lot of lost jobs. My son lost his when the towers went down because most of the companies clients were in those towers and afterwards, there were no more clients.

    • That must have been devastating for your son. What we are going through is bad but to have had any connections with the Towers going down, unimaginable. We’re also having trouble getting news this end and the new stations weren’t a big help as they sensationalized the stories focusing on the fire and destruction and not what was left okay. I haven’t checked today but yesterday the fire was only 20% contained and moving up just east of Carpinteria and Santa Barbara, neighboring cities. It’s unbelievably dry here, in the 80s as we speak, with close to no humidity, which continues to keep us all on edge. There’s just so much tinder. For now, we’re alive, inconvenienced and spent emotionally, but we’re okay. We have a roof, food, a comfortable bed, and so much more than so many who are scrambling to start all over. I know it’s good to be present, in the here and now, but I relish the day when the fires stop and the smoke clears. ❤

  6. ivors20 says:

    My heart goes out to you all over there in Thomas and beyond. Living in Victoria here, I’ve witnessed many bushfires

  7. Paulette, I don’t know what to say. I just don’t. Thank you for who you are. Is there any way to help with presents? Are there any organizations that you know and trust that we can send directly to?

    • Bless you for that heartfelt generous response. The best you can do it pray and send good thoughts. Getting mail here off and on has been a challenge. And the outpouring of connecting people who want to help with those in need is tremendous. And a jumbled mess right now. I think the best I can recommend is to do what you feel is right in your heart to help, whether the victims here or hit elsewhere by fire, flood, disaster. If it’s to this area you want to contribute Help of Ojai is doing an enormous amount of good to get clothing and help to victims. Here’s their phone number and address:
      111 W Santa Ana St
      Ojai, California 93023

      Mention it’s earmarked to help fire victims.

      Again and again, bless your for your generous loving heart. ❤

      • Thank you for taking the time to put this out here Paulette. I’m sure I am not the only one wanting to know how to help, and feeling so uncertain of the best way to do it. (You forgot the phone number though 😉 )

      • I just added the phone number. Help of Ojai has just set up a full store of everything from food to pillowcases for those who lost their homes. Terry’s on his way to purchase a carload of new pillows to bring to them. I sure understand about wanting to help. I’m driving myself nuts with wanting to do whatever I can. If you know anyone who wants to help, Help of Ojai is the best place. Been around for years and supports the community in so many ways. Thank you again dear Colleen.

  8. GP Cox says:

    I’m speechless and wish i had the words to make it all go away. Things like this should never happen to people like you.

  9. Steven Baird says:

    Though your heart aches, please know that your kindness and compassion do not go unnoticed. In difficult times, compassion and empathy are so important and necessary. Stay strong. 🙂

  10. natuurfreak says:

    Ik was zo blij weer wat van je te hren maar wat een verschtikkelijk nieuws voor U en de buren.Mijn hart voelt met je mee.Fantastisch wat je deed voor die vrouw en haar kinderen.Hoop dat er vlug betere tijden komen,

  11. Paulette, I am grateful you and your family are safe, and thank you for sharing such an inspiring experience. I send loving thoughts and my best wishes to you and all who are affected by the fires. Blessings to you. ❤

  12. lisarey1990 says:

    Continue looking after yourselves. My thoughts continue to be with you all.

  13. Clanmother says:

    I am so very sorry, Paulette. Fires are devastating… You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  14. So sad. Sending prayers and good thoughts. You are a wonderful kind person. Sharing your blessings brings you more blessings. Hugs!

  15. mrpipponders says:

    We are all so worried about you all suffering so badly out there. It is utterly unbelievable. You are in our prayers. Pip and the boys

    • Thank you so much. That sure does help. We’ve a great community here in our little town of Ojai and are supporting each other but with the fires continuing and smokey toxic air going on for so long it takes a toll on so many after a while. My heart aches for the firefighters and I pray this fire ends soon. Unbelievable. ❤

  16. As you bless other may you also be blessed. Perhaps we are blessed because we can do for others.

  17. My heart breakes while reading, dear Paulette 😥 What a horrible situation for all of you and it must be so scary… Thank Cat there are still people…Angels on earth, like you ❤ May God bring Peace to all of you and the animals and nature. We purray for you ❤ Healing Pawkisses for all ❤ ❤ ❤

    • So sweet of you and thank you so much. It has been scary but this morning I saw a post on facebook (where we’re doing a lot of networking) that a woman who couldn’t sleep got up in the middle of the night to patrol Ojai to be sure it was safe. Ojai rest in a beautiful valley surrounded by magnificent mountains. There perched on a look out point were two firemen. She conversed with them and told them she was afraid to go to sleep. They told her that there was a drone floating over all the fire and hot spot areas that alerted the firefighters so they were able to stay on top of things. What a relief!! We are being watched over by the best of them, the brave incredibly selfless men and women out there 24/7 protecting our lives. Now, if the smoke and unhealthy air would just clear. Sending you pawkisses and lots of love right back. ❤

  18. Clowie says:

    I don’t know what to say. It’s a horrible situation. I’m sure your gesture means more than you know to that family. My thoughts are with you all.

    • Thank you, Clowie. It was a very warm and rewarding experience in the middle of so much despair and tragedy. I’ve come to be reminded over and over that it’s the simplest acts of kindness from decent caring people that make the world a better place. I’ve been blessed recently with many of them, from a kind word like yours, to a loving concerned phone call, to a hug from a stranger. It’s this that will regrow our beautiful town and community. Wishing you and your bipeds Happy Holidays. ❤

  19. I hope things go back to normal soon dear Paulette. Sending lots of love and best wishes your way❤

  20. We are all watching and grieving the destruction of these horrific fires. Stay safe. May it soon end.

  21. I’m tearing up just reading this, both for the awful situation you and everyone there is in and the love for a family that surely appreciated your gesture so much. You and those around you are getting love and prayers from here in Wisconsin.

  22. How lovely, warmhearted and generous you have acted. ♥

  23. Lara/Trace says:

    You have such a good heart. Love to you.

  24. dgkaye says:

    Prayers every day Paulette. You are one of God’s angels. ❤

  25. natuurfreak says:

    I’m following it on the news and hope it will stop soon.Think all days at you and the people who lives there.

  26. Deziz World says:

    Oh awnty Paulette, ya’ll have been and will continue to be in our purrayers. We may be behind in visitin’, but we’re up on da goins’ on and knew of da struggle with da fires. We don’t have much but ifin we can do anythin’ fur ya’ll, purrlease let us know. Sendin’ hugs fur all. Stay safe.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Raena

  27. lorriebowden says:

    Ah! So hard to press ‘like!’ I honestly can’t write this because I can’t see the keyboard on my phone because the tears sting my eyes and my heart hurts for you and all who are going through this.
    You beautiful spirit shines to the world and you are stronger than you know. It is devastating… unbelievably sad. And the stories of looting…and firings…the worst of humanity also comes out. But the best lives inside you…and I feel for you…and I am proud of you! Please know I am praying for you all.
    Heartfelt compassion 💜

  28. Sending my best wishes to you and your family, Paulette, along with deep gratitude for all of the lives you touch with your work and writing. ❤

  29. Merry Christmas to you and yours! Have a funny time, and a blessed New Year. Michael 😉

  30. So precious… So heartwarming! Thank you for the love in these dark life times!

  31. Oh this brings it home! We had terrible smoke in the summer, but the fires were (mostly) in our forests, not our homes. This is such heartbreak. And you found a way to turn a sad time into joy. Hope you had a very happy holiday. Thank you.

    • Thanks J.B. Finally the air is clearing, literally, and we can go outside without masks. And an expression has been generated that sums up what our little town is feeling: love spreads faster than fire. The human spirit and power of love abounds. That will help those who lost their homes and jobs travel through this trauma easier. Wishing you a very Happy New Year. ❤

  32. I’m so sorry. Hope everything works out. Don’t even know if words can help comfort what you all went though. Hugs and I hope your holidays are ok despite everything going on.

    • Ah sweet jebusandandrea, your comforting words do help, a lot, and thank you so much for them. The air is finally clearing and we can go outside without masks. It’s all those little things that offer so much comfort. Our home came through okay but so many others have lost theirs. The community has rallied together to help those in need and it’s uplifting all our spirits, the power of love. Brings home what the holiday time is really all about. Wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year. ❤

  33. je suis de tout mon coeur avec vous!
    je partage votre peine..

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