Monday, May 24, 2010

..and then?

Life has a way of making things...interesting.

I've been writing this post in my head for over a month now, starting it over and over, wondering just how to say it.

There really isn't much option, as no matter what, once said it's out there and that's that. Life has made a 90 degree turn on me and mine and that's all there is to it, and all this does is acknowledge it to the general public.

On April 7th, 2010 our house, with very nearly every material possession that I and my family owned, burned to the ground.

My two youngest daughters were home on spring break, I was at work and hubby was on the highway. An RCMP officer came to my work to inform me.

She started out by asking me to sit down, never a good sign. Reaching, she patted my arm and said "now everything is okay..." correcting herself to say, "well what I mean is, your daughters are okay but your house is gone, it's completely burned..."

I was pretty glad to be sitting down at that point.

I called hubby and demanded that he pull over; as he pointed out later, also never a good sign.

Old electrical wiring in a wall we discussed the Sunday before about removing in ongoing renovations of our older home were found to be the cause. Both girls were unhurt (physically) and most of our pets escaped the fire.

Our 14 yo had the presence of mind to shove her sister out the door and after a moment's pause thinking about trying to rescue her cat and kittens she followed her out the door, feeling like she abandoned a part of her family to the fire.

We lost everything. Years of photos (all dutifully backedup electronically onto cds but stored on site, and not in a fire proof safe... I wonder if anyone does think to store them offsite... probably, but I didn't...) boxes of momentos of family members past and activities and achievements, much electronic equipment, including computers, game consoles and video and sound; 30plus years of crafting stash, about 300 movies both vhs and dvd and the list goes on and on and on.

Anyone who has cleared out a house after a loved one lost knows what I'm talking about. The odd dishes from sets long broken or discarded, that holds the memories of birthday parties and smudgy little kid finger prints. All those memories that we still have but no longer have the tangible, tactile ability to access.

Oh yes, we're lucky. There is no question about that whatsoever. Lucky that over the years my own fear of fire has tormented me to drill the kids on getting out, leaving everything behind and just getting out. We're lucky they were awake and moving around as people lying down in the type of fire this was, seldom get up. The fire inspector told me that on average a fire in a home such as ours is inescapable past the 28 second mark. They moved fast, they saw and assessed and reacted positively in that time frame. HELL yes, we're lucky we were prepared.

Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, local and national service clubs and complete strangers have been generous and kind and helpful. We're a small town community and the rallying around us was most heartening in a time where people often turn away from those in need.

Members of knitting lists I belong to have swamped me in wonderful gifts to assist me in refilling my stash. They get it that you don't have just one set of knitting needles or just one type of yarn at hand if you're the kind of knitter I am.

People have been fantastic about offering (and some have already done so) to purchase my daughters sets of the books they are mourning. Clothing has been coming by the bagful and our temporary rental house is almost completely furnished.

We are lucky.

And if everything around us has a sense of someone else's essense, well that's just the way it'll have to be for the time being. If nothing we reach for is familiar just yet and there is no comfort in the sensation of climbing between blankets that have molded to your contours for years we still have beds and bedding to sleep in.

We *are* lucky... it's hard sometimes to remember that, when we're mourning our losses.

So if I can give just one little piece of advice... if you're helping someone out after a catastrophic loss, either by fire or flood or the unexpected (or expected for that matter) loss of a loved one... please, don't tell them they are lucky... they know that... they get that... what they know and how they feel are likely really different things. So please, don't mention luck, okay?

... and even if you don't understand that a pet is an integral part of a family, don't tell someone that the loss of one isn't to be grieved as much as the loss of a human... they know that too... just try remembering that to them, family is family and feeling 'lucky' to be alive when a family member (of any sort) is not, isn't very comforting.

Next post... not so much whining, much more happiness as we move towards better days...