Let the Rain Come Down

Wash Away Our Tears…

This morning was the first day of fresh air since the Woolsey fire ravaged our communities. It’s been raining and the rain has washed away the stale odor of smoke from the charred hills. I’ve taken fresh air for granted until this devastating fire. 

Evacuating Malibu – Photo credit: Grant Denham 

I am one of the lucky ones who’s home was spared by the ravenous fire but I still mourn the lives and homes lost.

Air tanker hits it’s mark!

I live adjacent to a reservoir, so even after the evacuation was lifted, for days I heard the buzz of the air dropping helicopters and whirlybirds that scooped up water nearby to fight the fire as it moved north.

Firefighters holding back the flames in Westlake Village
Photo Credit: Daily News

I am so grateful to the firemen who traveled to my hometown, Westlake Village. They came from all over the United States, to help save our homes.

These gentlemen who are posing with my niece, Marianna, and my two dogs are from outside Seattle.

This crew was posted on my street to watch for flare ups.

BORDERLINE

The fire tragedy followed just one day after the Borderline mass shooting in neighboring Thousand Oaks. My sister and I sang at this local night club, so we know it well. In my mind, I pictured every horrifying detail as it was reported.  

God bless Sergeant Ron Helus who went in first and lost his life. His bravery saved countless lives. The other 11 casualties are: Cody Coffman, Justin Meek, Alaina Housley, Telemachus Orfanos, Daniel Manrique, Sean Adler, Noel Sparks, Kristina Morisette, Jake Dunham, Blake Dingman and Mark Meza Jr. I hope they will not be forgotten.

COMMUNITIES COMING TOGETHER

Our communities are rallying with an outpouring of love. We’re holding fundraising concerts and other events to help the families of the victims. I have seen blessings of grace where people are turning loss into gratitude.

In this frightening and confusing time, we are all searching for ways to help ourselves and others heal. My niece Erin wrote this poem to help process her grief.

I DO NOT ANYMORE

This morning I sit in my office, as I do most every day, My heart is heavy, thoughts are swirling, I know not what to say.

I cannot help but wonder if I’m safe behind my door, I used to feel safe and secure, but I do not anymore.

Is my daughter safe inside her school as she learns with all her friends? Is my father safe in the restaurant where a client meeting he attends?

Is my mother safe inside the gym as she lifts weights to get strong? Is my brother safe inside the club as he spins records blending songs?

Is my uncle safe in the courthouse as his clients take the stand? Is my cousin safe in the hospital where she holds her patients’ hands?

Is my aunt safe in line at the bank as she waits to cash a check? Is my rabbi safe in our synagogue with a tallit around his neck?

Are my friends safe is any space as they go about their day? Is my community safe as once again we light candles and we pray?

Are teachers safe in classrooms? Are actors safe on stage? Are revelers safe at parties? Or must they fear those with hidden rage?

Is there safety inside stadiums where for our favorite teams we cheer? Is there safety inside shopping malls as we shop for gifts this year?

I hear the word “tragic” yet again, read “senseless” in news feeds. “Thoughts and prayers” are thrown about, as if that’s what we need.

I have no words of wisdom, there’s nothing poignant I can share. I just exist here with a heavy heart and try not to despair.  

Anger takes up space in me, tears overflow my eyes, As I think about holding my daughter tonight when out of fear she cries.

I ask the same question I asked last week, and too many times to count, When is enough is enough is enough for change to come about?

But for now, I sit here wondering if I’m safe behind my door, I used to feel safe and secure, I do not anymore.

– Erin Eichberg

This has been a sad and challenging month for our quiet community but with the rain, comes the hope of new life and new beginnings. As we rebuild, I’ll hold this hope in my heart.

– Linda

“Each morning we are born again. It’s what we do today that matters.” – Buddah

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4

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Writing Therapy

PROCESSING GRIEF

At first the pain was too much. I didn’t want to think or feel. I wanted to be numb and repress my emotions. But strangely, now I am now finding comfort in the opposite. I need to talk about him, write down memories and remember the special moments we had together.

Processing grief is like an ocean, rolling up and down unpredictably. Submerged until you can’t breathe, you’re almost drowning and then you are finally able to come up for air, for hope. My brother-in-law, Umberto, passed away this month after a long battle with cancer.

Writing as Therapy

I know writing and journaling is good therapy for many traumatic situations, so why not for loss and death. Actually, there is science behind writing to help with the grieving process. It doesn’t have to be public writing, like a blog. Any kind of writing has therapeutic power.

Umberto

umberto-young-man_He loved cooking, food and people. As a young man, Umberto studied at a culinary school. His passion landed him in Monte Carlo, working as a waiter at the Hotel de Paris. One day, a friend who was on the personal waitstaff of the Royal Family of Monaco became sick and Umberto was asked to take his place. The Royals enjoyed his service so much they ask for him to be their permanent personal waiter. It’s no wonder, Umberto was loaded with good looks, personality and culinary acumen.

Umberto ended up in Philadelphia where he opened a successful restaurant downtown, The Monte Carlo Living Room. The restaurant received much critical acclaim and was known as one of the top restaurants in Philadelphia.

During this time, he met and married my sister, Alane. Alane was a journalist and an assistant editor of an epicurian food magazine. One of her assignments was to write a story about Umberto and his famous restaurant. That was how they met. It was love a first sight. Together they had two boys, Umberto Jr. and Marco.

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Creativity

Umberto was extremely creative: he liked to design. He built and designed an Italian restaurant in Ardmore that he converted from a bank. He retained parts of the bank to give the restaurant a special flair and used the bank’s vault as a private dining area. He had a huge imagination!

Hospitality

Some of my fondest memories of Umberto was of him managing at his restaurant, Primavera, or entertaining with his family at his home. Sometimes he would personally craft special off the menu dishes for me in the restaurant’s kitchen. He was an artist with food and he aimed to please. I loved the twinkle in his eye when he would beak out a bottle of rare wine from his cellar to share with us. Umberto’s face would beam joyfully as he described the qualities and nuances of the wine. He was more than a fine restaurateur, he had the gift of hospitality.

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What Say You?

Umberto’s favorite family greeting was, “What say you”? It was customarily delivered with a chuckle and a smile. But it was his Italian accent that made the phrase so charming and memorable. Umberto could light up a room!

IL SUO RETAGGIO E’ ANOCORA TRA NOI – His Legacy Is Still With Us

Friends and Family

Always a jovial host, Umberto delighted in gourmet food, fine wine and conversation. He loved to see people having a good time, eating and enjoying each other’s company. My brother-in-law loved his friends and family.

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His son’s Umberto and Marco

We celebrated many family occasions at Ristorante Primavera in Wayne, Pa. It was the spot for making great memories. Alane and Umberto were so gracious about letting the family use their restaurant.

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Our nephew,Dylan’s Christening party at the Primavera

Not too long ago my brothers and sisters and I, esteemed my mother for her 85th birthday at the restaurant. Here I am enjoying a laugh and a hug with Umberto at her birthday party.

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Umberto’s personality was larger than life!

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It was a rare treat when Umberto and Alane joined my husband, Steven and I on vacation in Kauai. Vacations are extremely difficult to plan for busy restaurant owners. They were both dedicated, hard workers.

Though they lived on different coasts Steve always had a special bond and relationship with his brother-in-law. They were close in age, only a few days apart. They were joined at the heart.

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Steve and Umberto at the reunion

The Final Days

This past summer, my mother surprised me and all my siblings by inviting us, along with our families, to Florida for vacation. There were over thirty people at the gathering. It was a great reunion on the beach!

That get-together was the last quality time my family and I spent with Umberto. It was a gift. It wasn’t too long after, he was diagnosed with stage four cancer and had to be hospitalized. We did fly back to Philadelphia to see him in the hospital but by then he was a different man.

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My daughter, Lindsay with her uncle Umberto in Florida

Words can’t adequately describe what I feel for Umberto but it is a good feeling when I look back at all the beautiful times we had together. He added so much joy to my life. For that I am grateful. I always have the comfort of knowing that we both belong to Christ and we will be in His loving arms for eternity.

As you hold your loved ones close this holiday season, focus on gratitude.

The Eichberg family wishes you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. All the best for 2017.

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~ Blessings, Linda

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” – Psalm 34: 18 NLT