Hiking the Chimney Tops – Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Gatlinburg, Tennessee – 03/20/2019

In November 2016, something horrific happened that changed our lives forever here in Tennessee.

Fire.

Now, our Tennessee House is about 3 hours from Gatlinburg, so we were NOT directly affected in any way by the fires themselves.

However, in Tennessee, we are ALL family.

It IS the Volunteer State.

And we readily answered the call to help our friends and neighbors in their time of need.

Fresh from the reality of our own loss of Ribby, and raw in our own devastating grief, we knew what we had to do…

And we spent the next 4 months helping to run the Food Bank in a Distribution Center coordinated by the Sevier County Rescue Squad.

Basically, we showed up one night to help. And didn’t leave until I had to have a surgery that required an extended recovery time with bed rest and no lifting…

But, we made beautiful life-long friends in the process of helping others.

We worked HARD, often in 20-24 stretches, to process unfathomable amounts of generous donations from all over the world to ensure local residents had food and supplies to carry them through their devastation.

And, I won’t lie. Working face-to-face with survivors of such horrific loss changes you. It changes you forever.

Loss scars you, the way fire has scarred these trees; forever leaving their irreparable marks.

But, we go on.

We go on, in spite of loss, of pain.

In spite of the waves of grief.

And just like the forest,

We grow back.

And in the ruins, beauty does bloom.

So, here we are, almost two and a half years later.

Spending our First Day of Spring, the season of rebirth, of growth, of bloom…

Forever remembering what we’ve lost…

But, forever in awe of the cycle of life…

Of love.

Because love…

It is ETERNAL.

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