Since the Camp Fire, my friends have cared for me and my family better than I could have imagined. They set up a gofundme page, I reluctantly accepted, it was needed. They have sent us gifts to rebuild our lives, including very personal items that they use, like dishes and Christmas ornaments and even items from their jewelry drawer. My kids loved the costume jewelry and sundry. Due to the travel across country and social media, I have reconnected with many friends and asked them for help along this journey of recovery.

The most impactful moments were reconnecting with childhood friends.

On the day of the fire, I called a friend from Alaska who was living in Redding, CA. I knew they had lost their home just months previous to the Carr Fire. I asked for advice with our insurance company. I pleaded that I didn’t think our home was burned, but that we could not afford the hotel bill of staying out of the way for a week or even longer. They told me about the Loss of Use portion of my policy and insurance was paying for that hotel the very next day.

I left Alaska over 35 years ago and yet all of my friends, even those who have never been to Alaska, could be honorary Alaskans. All of my friends have the same Alaska-spirit of hospitality and generosity. My friends have prayed for me, housed me and my family, loaned us a car, and loved us beyond my asking. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and complete humility as I can never repay them.

Friends: a true gift.