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Posts tagged: Oso

Oso strong

The digging, the waiting, the mud continues.

The names of the deceased appear, the names of the missing posted.

What happens to a community when so many simply vanish? How do we come to understand the catastrophe? When overcome with grief, how does someone survive?

One takes small steps, uncertain of the stability of each day, for the terrain of one’s heart has shifted and one’s world altered forever. Grief, like cleanup, requires small steps, lots of rest and a community who loves without reservation. 

(S-R photo)

Mudslide: Day 8

The mudslide story plays constantly on the Seattle news stations:  the faces of waiting loved ones reveal exhaustion and grief. The workers who dig and pole and sift through the muck appear as subject to slipping away as the victims of one week ago.

The rain pelts down, hour after hour after hour.

Fire Chief Travis Hots has been in his job since January – two months. No matter if he had been chief for two decades, no imagination or experience or training could have prepared him for this disaster. We keep vigil with him, with the communities of Oso and Darrington and Arlington. 

We wait.

(S-R photo: Snohomish County District 21 Fire Chief Travis Hots )

“Things Shouldn’t Be So Hard”

Kay Ryan writes a lovely poem that easily fills the grief spaces in our hearts as searchers continue to slog through the sludge, debris and pain caused by Saturday's mudslide. Somehow humans persevere, but each step demands intent and hopeful purpose. A poem: 

Things Shouldn’t Be So Hard

A life should leave

deep tracks:
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn-out place;
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
white pastilles;
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
almost erased.
Her things should
keep her marks.
The passage
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space—
however small —
should be left scarred
by the grand and
damaging parade.
Things shouldn’t
be so hard.

Kay Ryan was the 16th Poet Laureate of the United States.

(S-R photo: A searcher uses a small boat to look through debris from a deadly mudslide Tuesday in Oso, Wash.)

Mudslide: Hearts with hope

The mudslide scene in Oso, Washington reminds us of the eruption of Mt. St. Helen in 1980: the debris and mud and unknown. Where are the lost?

We seem to hold vigils almost daily during these days of catastrophes, made by nature or ourselves. We are a community of humanity who suffers together. We wait together. And listen for news, for names, for images of life.

We keep the light in our hearts burning with hope.

(S-R photo: The Oso Community Church displays a sign reading “pray with us for our community.”)

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About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

Ask a question: Catherine welcomes questions about aging issues and grief. Email her at

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