It’s Not a Big Deal (But It Is)

conversations with hank


Me: (only one eye cracked open) Good morning, Hank.

Hank: (playing Animal Crossing New Leaf) Good morning, it rained.

Me: (grateful relief) It rained all night long!

Hank: So good.

Me: Indeed. How are you this morning?

Hank: (focused on his game) Not the best. I woke up wrong.

Me: Oh. (sitting next to him at the table, ignoring my brain screaming for coffee)

Hank: When my alarm went off I was like, “Hank, you don’t have to get up. You don’t have to get dressed, take a shower, do your hair and look nice. Sleep until 8am and then run to school. No one cares, but you.”

Me: But you’re up: showered, dressed, looking nice and smelling nice and it is way before 8am.

Hank: Because I was like, “Hank, don’t listen to your lying brain. You have a math test today and you like looking nice and you like being the only one awake in the house and to get ready without a rush.” So I got up. (focused on collecting fruit in his game)

Me: Bravo.

Hank: It’s not a big deal.

Me: (getting up to appease my screaming brain raging for coffee) Oh, but it is.


525 Incêndios (Wild Fires)

Normally you can see Penha from my apartment.  Yesterday, all you could see was smoke.

Normally you can see Penha from my apartment. Yesterday, all you could see was smoke.


There is no conversation today.

Four months after the deadliest, most devastating wild fires Portugal has ever lived through 525 fires raged across the northern and central regions of this beautiful country and 30+ people have lost their lives. The smoke from our burning nation crossed the ocean and blanketed London in an eery eggshell sky and this morning we are all numb. After a summer of intense draught, in an area of unmanaged forest the winds from Hurricane Ophelia caused the wild fires to jump the Douro River and cross into Spain. We are all wounded, we are all pointing fingers and clicking our teeth and holdings our families tight.

My mind races in a loop screaming, “Something must be done. Something will be done. Something should have been done sooner.”

My family is in shock. Frankly, we didn’t speak much in this house last night while watching the news, rejoicing when the Prime Minister announced that all but 20 of the fires had been put out. Hank literally hid in my office and studied for his math test on Wednesday as to not see the photos of the devastation.

My brother-in-law is a professional fire fighter; he and his brothers and sisters are heroes. They have saved us because the rain never came to save Portugal, but they did. They did.

We will make lasting change because of this summer and fall, but it will never bring back those we have lost. We will rebuild, but families will always be scorched, even as the green covers the black and the land recovers the families of the victims never will.

Portugal will make lasting change from these tragic 4 months, we will never forget and we will also never recover.