An Open Letter to everyone who contributed to the efforts of helping Fort McMurray
I am from Fort McMurray. I watched my city burn. I’ve seen an orange and black sky with ashes flying around as the fire continued to rage. I’ve smelled air that reeked of smoke as the flames continued to eat up trees and houses and everything that stood in its way. I’ve heard heartbreaking stories from people who have lost their entire house to the fire and had nothing left except the clothes on their backs and tears in their eyes. I’ve felt sadness, despair, worry, and pain, as I slowly realized that things may never go back to the way they used to be and that the path I need to travel next is, perhaps, one filled with hardship and uncertainty.
Simply put, it was a tragedy.
And yet, surprisingly, I have also seen such beauty in humanity. And I know, when I look back, I will not remember the horror of fleeing from a city raging with wildfire, instead I will remember the love we’ve received from strangers who were so willing to go out of their way just to try and help us remember that no matter what, we are cared for and loved.
To all firefighters, volunteers, and all the people who have donated or offered help to us citizens of Fort McMurray, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you. No words would be enough to express the gratitude I feel for what you guys have done and are doing. No day would pass without me tearing up – not because of sadness and despair, but because of gratitude for all the love we are receiving. Each day, I am surprised by the extent of how one person can care for another person they don’t even know. Each day, I am overwhelmed by how much one is capable of loving another unconditionally, if only they choose to.
You didn’t have to fly from another country or stay awake for more than three days to try and protect a stranger’s home from being burnt to the ground. You didn’t have to give up that favourite shirt just so a stranger could have something to wear. You didn’t have to donate your hard-earned money just to try and help a stranger get back on their feet. You didn’t have to sacrifice your time just to help strangers who didn’t even know your name. You didn’t have to buy gas with your own money and drive around giving it freely to strangers who were stuck on the road. You didn’t have to stand around and wait for strangers to take up your offer of free food, free water, free gas, and free accommodation. You didn’t have to donate your membership perks and freebies choose to earn nothing just so strangers can receive freebies from the store or company you are part of. You didn’t have to set up a lemonade stand or play on the streets just to raise money and give it to strangers. No, you didn’t have to do any of this, yet, you still did. Because, in your eyes, we weren’t ‘strangers’, we were family members who were in need and it was your natural instinct to do your best to help. That’s beautiful. That’s amazing. YOU’RE amazing!
Like a candle that burns brightly in the dark, your heart shone brilliantly and have provided light for us when we were in the shadows.
I might not be able to personally and specifically thank everyone I have encountered so far, but through this letter I at least wanted to try and get my heart of thanks across to everyone because, honestly, this is the least you deserve. Thank you!
Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your encouragements, thank you for your donations, thank you for your selflessness, thank you for your sincerity, thank you for your bravery, thank you for your patience, thank you for your love.
We are Alberta strong and Fort McMurray strong because you stand beside us, catching us when we fall and giving us strength when we’re weak. Truly God is good for blessing us with people like you and I believe that just as He mightily used you to provide for us, He will also mightily give back what you have given.
Cheers, my friend! We will never forget the love you’ve shown us. I pray and believe that no fire, no flood, no drought, NOTHING, can break this unity God has given us. This family will prosper and rejoice, for good things come to those who love. Never have I seen so much love in humanity up close!
One thing I know for certain: is I sure am blessed. Again, my friend, thank you!