Fort McMurray.

I’m scared. Terrified, really. It seems silly to say that since I am nowhere near the raging fire in Fort McMurray but, it’s the simple and honest truth. Alberta was my first home and despite not living there for the last 16 years, it still feels like that. My heart is aching for everyone who is suffering – the residents, their families elsewhere, the animals, the firefighters and everyone else who might be affected by this ordeal.

It feels strange to feel so strongly for people I don’t know and a town I’ve never visited. But it also feels heartbreaking and utterly devastating. Even from 6000km away, it’s like I’m sitting right there in the thick of it all. I’m not trying to downplay the hurt they’re feeling or the losses they’re suffering but, rather, I am trying to identify with them. And with myself.

There has been nothing in my life that has happened to match what these people are feeling right now. Sure, I’ve endured loss and heartbreak. I’ve even watched a small fire quickly turn rampant before the fire brigade showed up. But I am lucky. My home is intact, my family is safe, my city isn’t afraid and I am alive. Yet, somehow, it still feels like I’m losing something.

There’s something about empathy that can reach the furthest points of the earth. When shootings occur in Paris or when Syrians are displaced or when the ground shakes so violently that entire cities are destroyed, empathy creeps in. And I think that’s what makes it so hard. Knowing that empathy doesn’t do much for anyone. I feel for the residents of Fort McMurray. I am with them in their loss and fear and heartbreak. But that’s all I can do – be with them.

So this is me, voicing my concern, my fears, my loss and my heartbreak. This is me empathising and knowing it won’t make a difference. This is me hoping that in the coming weeks and months, the devastated can hope with me. And this is me hoping that maybe knowing someone out there a million miles away feels the same way, they won’t feel so afraid.


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