The tears suddenly welled up in my eyes at 11:20am today. Nothing that would cause such tears is going on around me, but I recall where I was exactly one year ago at this time. I was at the park with my children and their friends, while a fire was burning through the interior of our precious home. The emotion of what we have been through this past year hit me, as I stood in the kitchen, in the exact same place the fire started. (details here).
This was the fire that caused us to lose the entire interior of our home and 90% of our belongings. This is the fire that left my children without ANY of their toys, clothes, furniture or their favorite blankies that gave them much security. This fire ripped away any sense of safety and security that my husband and I had. This fire left us without A LOT… but it also left us with a new look at life. It left us better people and a stronger family.
One year after my family’s devastating house fire, I asked our kiddos what they have learned over the past year. (Keep in mind, my five year old barely has any memory of our fire, now.) Here is what they said:
- I have learned that we all make mistakes and that we should forgive that person who made a mistake and move on. My 8 year old son. (Please note: It was my mistake that caused the fire so this one made me smile and cry at the same time. )
- I don’t need things like toys to make me happy. (10 year old)
- As long as I have my family, I am happy. (5 year old.)
Upon reflection, looking back over the past year, my husband and I have learned a few lessons, as well. I am 100% confident that we are better off, one year later than we were prior to the fire. Here are our lessons: (#7 is my lesson alone. 🙂 )
- The more things we have, the more stress we have. (More “stuff” to accommodate, clean, worry about, arrange, organize.) We are enjoying living with less.
- It is better to accept help than to reject it. It is also humbling and at times, embarrassing, to be in a position of needing such help. It is then that we must surrender our ego and pride and just graciously accept help. Then.. pay it forward when you are able.
- As long as everyone is safe… our family can get through anything.
- It is of utmost importance to have coping mechanism that works. For us, it was to rely on our faith. Without prayers and reliance on God, we would have been ruined… as people and as a family.
- Shit happens. And sometimes, it is a lot of shit and other times, shit happens for a long time. Take the time, gather the tools to work through the crappy times. You will be okay, take care of you and yours. Things do get better, just not always right away.
- Kindness changes lives. Firefighter Jarrett approached me after the fire was out and confirming that I was the owner of the house, reminded me what was most important, “I was in your house. I saw your family photo hanging on the wall. Those three beautiful children are safe. That is all that matters.” He changed my life in that moment. No matter what, keep your eyes on the bigger perspective. Be grateful for what you have.
- My husband is a saint…well most days. When I ran up to him from the end of the street (again, fire was my fault- on accident of course) with tears in my eyes, as the street was closed due to the many fire trucks, police and ambulance… I said, as I hugged him, through tears, “I do not know how you will ever forgive me.” He immediately responded, “I already have.”
Our lives are not perfect. We still are dealing with the insurance company, financial strain and a contractor who still has work to complete. However, I can honestly say, I am grateful this fire happened to our family.
Thank you for anyone who ever gave us a word of encouragement and support. Thank you to our family, friends, colleagues, neighbors and even perfect strangers who kindly gave us handouts that we desperately needed at the time, and allowed us to accept with our pride in tact. Thank you God, for getting us through the worst days of our lives. Tonight this family is celebrating a rough year behind us and beautiful future ahead of us!
Thank you for being a part of our journey this past year!