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  • christine poje

One Year Later

We did it. We drove through fire and survived. We lost our home, town, place of work and survived. Today, we went back to Paradise for the anniversary events. We left our “temporary home” in La Crosse, Wisconsin and showed up. We were concerned. I am certain the kids did not know why we needed to show up. They were just following mom, again.


My kids trust me. They did EXACTLY what they needed to do the morning of our escape. I gave them all marching orders and they did them. Maggie cleaned out the car “for a trip to grandpa’s in Reno”. Gabriel went up on the roof and blew the pine needles off and hosed it down with water. Mary and Joe were with me, in the house, doing the “Poje Passover”. The “Poje Passover” is our maneuver to be sure we haven’t left anything behind, like in a hotel room. I am the mother of these kids and they are watching me.


My counselor, friends, husband and strangers have said I should write a parenting book. I always have to laugh because I am far from a perfect parent. However, I do show up. I show up every morning and do my best. When it came time to think about the anniversary events, I was worried. Should we spend the money to fly all the way to Paradise just to be there for some events that on paper don’t seem like “enough” to express our trauma, recovery and remembrance?


Yes, show up.



The events were healing and hopeful. The ornaments that we sold to friends and family and others to support Paradise were needed. The kids saw how profoundly affected the people who knew how they felt that first Christmas responded to the gift of their first homemade ornament. Some said it was their first ornament ever because that first Christmas they stayed with family. People cried. We cried. The kids are healing. The anniversary events were necessary for our healing.