July 25, 2015
Hello angel friends! Today is a very special day in our family’s history. Three years ago our house burned down. We call it our “fire-versary”.
The day started like any other. Summer is a time of lesson planning for my studio and that is what I had been doing. The day was rolling along with hubby at work, my daughter hanging out and I had just walked my son down the driveway with his friend as they were leaving to go to a skate park. I was getting ready for my annual CHRISTAMS IN JULY event at the studio and said to my daughter “if you did the dishes I wouldn’t cry”. She started doing dishes and I was in the other room prepping for my event. About 5 minutes later I heard her scream “oh my God the garage is on fire”. I really thought I heard wrong, went to the window and one whole wall was engulfed.
I threw her the car keys and said get the van out then stay on the front lawn (I hear that was pretty dumb but all I could think was I just filled the tank and I did not want to see what 22 gallons of burning gasoline looked like).
I called 911 and got the carriers and went to find the three cats. I will say about 10 minutes had passed and as you pet owners know, getting a cat in a carrier on a good day is challenging, they were nowhere to be found.(it was about 3:30pm at that point)
I looked out the back window and the whole garage was up in flames.
My thought was, ok I can live without a garage but if I die that is not good. I grabbed my purse (good thinking!) and ran out the front.
First on scene was a police officer, he got out of the car and stood with us and watched the garage burn. (Dana says that he was checking around but at this point I think I was “out of body”)
It seemed like forever for the fire trucks to arrive but once again my perception was not the best. I only remember calling my husband and my son but magically folks started showing up.
I was amazed at the contractors who were in my face the whole time handing me their cards for rebuilding my house. I keep blankly looking at them and just took the card. (Weird)
Neighbors, friends, my brother and then more fire trucks. Someone brought a cage for the cats, a cooler for water bottles, and various other helpful items to help us out while this was happening. My thoughts at this time were “why aren’t they running with the hoses, they should hurry”
We started seeing the black smoke coming out of the front door and knew the house had caught fire.
The rest is a blur. My insurance lady was there. I swear the news choppers were there before the fire trucks and it really was like moving in a dreamlike state with things going slow motion around you.
Things had wrapped up about 11pm where we went with the first on scene disaster team (they board up the windows and stuff) to Walmart for essentials and then to the hotel to process and be in a state of shock for the moment.
We did rebuild and lost everything including one of our cats which was the worst part. One of the other cats had to be sent to a special pet hospital that totaled $4000 when we were done. Hobbes is alive and well and I would do it all over again! We thought we had lost our third cat and assumed he did not make it when we could not find him. Three days later the fire inspectors found him under the bed alive and well! What a miracle!
We also solved the mystery of how did the house catch fire (garage is not attached). My neighbors saw it from the back and told us the huge tree caught then a burning branch fell on the house.
You may wonder, what the heck does this have to do with angels and looking for a gift? I am going to tell you of course.
When we were in the hotel and going to bed I looked at my husband and said “this is small potatoes compared to what we have been through”. We had been through a family tragedy in 2011 that really made this look small. We talked awhile and we both agreed that we would allow ourselves the grief of loss but would move forward and “look for the gift”
Things we learned along the way:
The more fire trucks that show up the bigger the fire (we had 4 cities come)
What is not burnt is smoke or water damaged.
Things are just things and though it is sad to lose family treasures lives are way more important.
Even though you have insurance the fire will cost extra. We have excellent insurance along with a wonderful insurance lady who held our hand the whole way but there were still out of pocket expenses that were not covered as a result of re building.
What to do if someone you know is hit with this tragedy:
Do not say “well at least you get a new house out of it”
Just say “I am so sorry for your loss, is there anything I can do”
When you ask the victims out to dinner or over for dinner know that at the beginning there is zero time. (you will probably be turned down) Things move so fast and decisions are made at a high speed and there is a learning curve and it is so overwhelming that being in a social situation is more than one can handle.
If you need to do “something” gift cards are best. Yes we had excellent insurance but some do not and there is expense along the way.
The gifts we received from this event?
For me the biggest was learning to receive. I really had an issue with this at first and my angels kept saying “allow yourself to receive”.
Knowing that people are good at heart and when the poop hits the fan they will be there.
Growing our sense of humor with rebuilding (we say that rebuilding a house is like running an adult day care!)
Insurance is something you never want to use but having good insurance along with a great agent is a precious gift.
We do have a new house and really I do miss my olive countertops (not) but it took about two years to really feel like it was home.
I would not recommend this but heck we de cluttered in one day! In other words, we did not replace every single thing and the house does have less “stuff” now.
I now have an e cookbook compiled from friends when I lost all my cookbooks in the fire. It was really fun putting it together and what a great gift!
Most of all it really puts things in perspective, like anyone I stress over stuff but after this our family saying is “did the house burn down?” if not we can handle whatever!
So my angel friends, please always look for the gift in any situation. Sometimes it hides but you can find it if you open your heart and ask the angels for help!
Have an angel filled day everyone!