Imagine with me for a moment that you have left your home to go on a few errands. You have left your home and when you return things will never be the same. May 21, 2021 will be forever ingrained in my mind as a day of weeping. The day did not begin that way, but it certainly ended that way.
I had just returned from a trip to Illinois to visit my aunt with my mom. The night before I had unloaded my luggage and travel carry on from my car. When I woke up Friday morning, I decided to run a few errands. I called our year-old lab puppy to come to the door to go outside. She dropped her head—she did not want to go out. I thought briefly about taking her with me, but her crate wasn’t in my car because I had been out of town. I knelt down and cupped her face in my hands, kissed her and said, “I know I just got home baby. I have a couple quick errands and I’ll be right back.” I opened the door, put her outside on our deck, closed and locked the door never realizing it would be the very last time I would kiss her sweet face. Our cat was asleep on her chair in our bedroom. I didn’t want to disturb her nap, so I left without saying goodbye.
Fast forward 90 minutes. My husband and I are sitting chit chatting after ordering lunch when his cellphone rings. He declines the call because we are having lunch together. Twenty seconds later my cellphone rings and it’s the same caller. It’s our friend who is a sergeant with the Payson Police Department. He’s calling to let us know our house is currently on fire. I immediately jumped up from the table and ran to my car. I kept begging our friend to please save our pets. I thought Ella would be fine because she was outside on our deck and had access to the side yard. We had no idea how involved the fire was by the time the fire department arrived on the scene.
Thirty-one years of marriage. Two children. One granddaughter. Not just a house but a home full of memories. Gone in the blink of an eye. We stood and watched as everything we had worked for over the years, the sweat equity put into the house, the family collectibles we had that I treasured—all gone. Every time we built a new house in order to help pay down our house payment, I would joke with God that the house was His but everything inside was mine. As we watched it all burn, I had to ask myself, “What do we really have in life that is our own?” We come into this world with nothing, and we leave it with nothing. The only thing that will last is that which is eternal.
Nearly three weeks later, what does day to day life look like for someone who has lost their home to a fire? Thankfully, at this point, you have acquired more than one set of clothing. You might have two pairs of shoes now. If you have found a new place to live you are now compiling a list of items you need for the new place. Dish soap, towels, dishes, silverware, cookware, sheets, bath towels, etc.. Take a look around your home now. When someone has a total loss fire they have nothing when all is said and done. I do have a few pairs of shoes that survived, a jacket or two- but the insurance company hasn’t gone through the house yet to see what is salvageable, so you are hoping they’ll survive but you just don’t know. Should you replace it or hold out hope? Last month when I woke up in the morning, I had a routine. I knew what I was going to be doing. Today it depends on a plethora of factors none of which I have control over. If I was having a tough day, I knew I could always go into my craft room to create something that would always help me feel better. I am not writing all of this for people to feel sorry for us. I am writing to help people have a better understand or get a glimpse of what it is like to lose everything.
The hardest part for me today is that I am still not feeling well. When you are not feeling well you just want to be home and in your own bed with your favorite comfy jammies (that no longer exist) cuddled up with your fur babies (that are no longer with you, as well.)
Things that I am choosing to do to help with the heartbreak.
- Thanking God Tim and I are both still alive. The more we discuss what happened that morning the more I realize what a blessing it was I wasn’t home. (this is still very difficult on a gut level because I tell myself if I would have been home maybe I could have stopped the fire from spreading and/or saved Ella and Essie.)
- I am focusing on building a new home for us. What are the little things we did have that made our house a home?
- Journaling about how much this sucks.
- Taking outdoor plants that did survive the fire and transplanting them at the house we will be living at for the next year.
- Focusing on what we do have and not what we do not have.
- Focusing on rebuilding my craft room- collecting things that will be part of my new journey in fiber arts.
- Remembering the great times we had with Ella and Esther and not focusing on the years we lost. (Picture Esther in a kayak with us on Lake Powell. She was such a trooper)
This list is not complete but are some of the things I am doing to cope right now. We are so appreciative of the thoughts and prayers of our community. Family and friends have been amazing. We will receive a package in the mail, and I have to ask our girls “who is so and so?” to which one usually replies, ‘Oh, they’re our friends.’ The outpouring of love has been unfathomable to me. Please continue to pray that I heal from the bronchitis I have developed. Pray for wisdom for Tim as he deals with the fires and evacuations in southern Gila County and how they are affecting the court system. Thursday will be the electrical inspection at the house to see if they can determine the cause of the fire. Friday the 18th the rental furniture will be delivered, and we can start getting settled in our new place. Please pray for our landlord who has a long recovery ahead of him. We have developed quite a fond affection for him and his daughter.