That Night

By Fernando Cardenas

Total destruction by fire in a lifetime, according to probability statistics, is a 1 in 3,000 chance for Americans. Who knew? I did not. Nor did I ever imagine I would be “ # 1” or next up for the shock of losing every “thing” in my home and business.  Today, like the Garth Brooks lyrics in “The Dance”…. I’m just  glad I did not know, and very happy That Night is now behind us.


33 firefighters from 6 fire houses convened That Night for 16 hours as we watched in horror.  The good news is no one was injured, and we were not alone.  The sirens and the breaking radio and tv news were enough to bring neighbors, friends, colleagues, and the horse community to our rescue. Some instinctively knew to carry water to the horses all then safe in their pastures; others knew to provide the proverbial shoulder to lean on. The compassion and radical empathy we experienced That Night continue to this day as a gentle force that not only sustains, but also uplifts and motivates. 

That Night, leadership, creativity and immediate action emerged in the form of Gofundme, an Amazon Wish List and even trash cans and chairs.  Soon after, church volunteers scheduled completion of a tree planting project involving 60 saplings before winter set in.  My son’s personal anchors (Thales Academy, Tae Kwon Do, and his soccer team )  provided the necessary return to routine. Friends harbored us with the love of an extended family until our next temporary stop:  a mobile home.  My own Cardenas family in Florida and Kansas continue to be ever-present in heartfelt and generous ways untold. They even make us laugh on occasion.

3H was operational just two days after That Night because two generous souls lent us their recreational vehicles to use as an office and a personal space  (a place for Hollis to do homework after school, for Meredith to sort donations, and for me to change clothes or hold meetings). Re-installing water and electricity may have taken 12 days, but 3H staff showed uncommon resilience and determination under bivouac conditions (temporary tarps for generator and food, and 3 rubber mats for lameness evaluations). “Cozy quarters”, combined with love and support were just what we needed.  

I’ve learned: 
No matter what: good people will always be there for us all.
Friendship is not a big thing…it’s millions of little things.  
In the end, it will all be good.  If if’s it’s not all good yet, then it’s not the end yet!  
We will get there together, better and stronger because grieving while simultaneously  moving forward  is a double privilege.
A long road is ahead of us but we travel in good company. We could never do it without the support of so many. Nor would we want to. 

Thank you.

There will always be a rainbow over 3H

Good things are always on their way to all of us.




Watch for the rainbow!