A year ago today our lives were irrevocably changed forever. The morning of May 21, 2021 we woke up and went about our routine as usual. Friday mornings I enjoy thrift store shopping and hitting the garage sales. I left the house around 9:20 am —as I was perusing the items that morning I was so happy thinking about how much I had enjoyed the visit with my aunt and uncle the last few days. I had just gotten home from a visit to Illinois to see them. I was counting my blessings, grateful for all we had and the season of life we were living. Life is good was all I was thinking. I called Tim and asked if he wanted to meet up for lunch. I had been out of town so I needed to do some grocery shopping. While we were waiting for our lunch to be served we received a phone call at 12:10pm that changed everything.
That afternoon we watched our house burn down to the stem walls for over three hours. We knew our cat Esther wouldn’t have survived the oxygen deprivation. Logic told us she was gone. We frantically looked and called for Ella, our chocolate lab that had recently had her first birthday, and had been outside on the deck attached to her dog run. I told Tim, “if we loose Ella too I won’t be able to survive this.” When we were told the fire fighters had found her body on the deck I collapsed in grief. Everything was gone. EVERYTHING. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. The only thing I wanted was to be with our kids and granddaughter.
Fast forward a year later…. I have learned many many things. Here are a few things that I have learned I would like to share with you about life, loss and traumatic events in life.
Life isn’t fair. The Bible tells us the whole earth is groaning for the day the world is made right again. The earth isn’t happy about all that is going on around us which led me to think, why should I be happy about all that is going on around me? One day all will be made right and until then things are out of sync and we are all groaning for the day God will make things right like they were at the beginning of creation. If the world is not happy, why should I expect there’s any possibility I would be happy here on earth? We aren’t called to be happy, we are called to be content with our circumstances. Which leads me to the next thing I’ve learned.
Expectations. When I have expectations things should happen a certain way I am going to be disappointed when they don’t happen the way I imagine they should be. The other day I got a call out of the blue about some information regarding our new house build. I was so grateful for the information because I wasn’t expecting it. If I had been brooding over the contractor calling to tell me what is going on and they didn’t call I would still be very unhappy about them not meeting my expectation. I am taking time now to take a step back and realize the earth does not revolve around me and that other people have stuff going on in their lives too. Which leads me to the next thing I have learned.
I am not the only one going through it right now. Everyone has something they are going through right now. It may not be catastrophic from my perspective but it very well could be catastrophic from their perspective. There are times I am talking to people and they are talking about all that is going on in their lives and they don’t stop to ask what is going on in mine. If I am being honest I can be a little butt hurt they haven’t asked me about what is going on in my life. I am trying to take a step back and realize we all are focused on what is most important to us right now in the moment. It’s not that people don’t care what is going on in your life it’s more likely they are consumed by what is currently going on in their own lives. It’s not personal. It’s a fact of life. Which leads me to the next thing I learned when my little brother died but have been continually reminded of the last year…
It’s not all about me. People are there for you for the first part of your tragedy…then life moves on for them while you are still stuck in the aftermath of your nightmare. Again, it’s not that they don’t care it’s more likely they are consumed with their own life. Why would they be thinking about your life and tragedy still? It makes me think of what happens when you see other peoples children all grown up when you haven’t seen them in years and you’re surprised. Yet, my children are grown up now, why wouldn’t I envision theirs grown up too? I guess that is not how our brains work.
Finally, something I have always believed but have continually been reminded of the last year….
Everything happens for a reason. For me this is not just a saying, a mantra or cliche. It is truth. I’ll end my ramblings by sharing a “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” type incident. The *house we will be renting the next year while our house is being built needs a new deck (*River house). The couple that owns it lives part time in Montana. They met a man in Montana who lives down the street from their River house in Payson, he also happens to be a contractor and will now be building the new deck. When we met him a few weeks ago we learned it was his daughter’s house that burnt down in Payson Friday, May 13th. The family had been at the funeral of her best friend at the time the house fire started. The best friend was a good friend of our African Grey’s breeder, as well as our new neighbors where we are building our new house. I won’t bore you with all the details (and there are many many other strange coincidences …except I don’t believe in those) but the circle of events is allowing us to share our story and faith with others. The days I wonder why God would allow our house to burn down I remind myself that everything, and I mean everything, happens for a reason.
Quick update on our house rebuilding project….
We have footers and they are starting stem walls next week.
We are still dealing with the insurance company regarding our personal property loss claim. (If you have not already done it, please go through your house and video tape EVERYTHING- open every closet, every drawer, video every nook and cranny. Put it on a thumb drive and store it somewhere other than your house. Also, take some time to review your insurance policy and make sure it’s up to date with current inflation numbers)
We will be moving to our next rental house on Friday. (Our current rental house was sold and therefore we weren’t able to stay). We are hoping to move into our new house next spring but all will depend on the economy, availability of materials etc…
Today I choose to be grateful. Today I choose to be fair when life isn’t fair. Today I choose to keep my expectations in check when it is easier to keep them high. Today I choose to remember I am not the only one going through the bumpy roads of life. Today I choose to remember everything happens for a reason.