Bethany had left Lambchop, a favorite childhood relic, in our care when she’d joined the army as an Arabic linguist four years ago. And now, I couldn’t find it.
“Mom? What’s up?” she croaked sleepily.
Hastily, I explained the situation. “I’ve looked everywhere,” I lamented, “but I can’t find Lambchop.” I glanced out the kitchen window. The sky had become so dark and ominous with smoke that the streetlight flickered off and on and off again.
“Mom, don’t worry about it,” Bethany said. “It doesn’t matter. I love you. Be safe.”
With her words repeating themselves over and over again like a feverish refrain, I scrambled to pack the car, mindful, even in my panic, of a pattern of paradox. I had abandoned my computer (too big) and seven years of tax papers (who cares?) to make room for baby pictures, family photo albums and a recently signed book contract with Random House that had just arrived in the mail.
I ignored the china, Fostoria glass and Nambé ware but carefully removed the framed water color for which Bethany had once received a blue ribbon at the Los Alamos County Fair. I didn’t even consider the TVs, VCR or stereo or my collection of sassy Sarah Vaughan CDs, but made a beeline for our teenage son’s room to rescue his collection of Star Wars cards and the shadow box hanging on the wall near his bed that contains his grandfather’s Bronze Star and other World War II medals.
In the midst of filling a suitcase with an odd assortment of clothing, I suddenly thought of the birds that frequent our backyard. I hurried outside to fill the birdbaths and various feeders. Petals of ash fell gently around me in odd contrast to the brisk wind and the ferocious flames so dangerously close.
One of my husband’s campaign workers arrived then to rescue what she could from Bill’s home office—FEC files, donor lists, campaign checkbook. Bill was in Albuquerque speaking at a luncheon, blissfully unaware of the evacuation of his hometown. “Take care,” Lois said with a catch in her throat.
This year marks SFR’s 40th anniversary. Celebrate with us by reading excerpts of stories that have graced our pages through the years. Los Alamos’ Redmond was one of many evacuated during the Cerro Grande fire. Northern NM forests still burn today.