Often you hear someone say, “I’m blessed,” when you ask them how their day is going, or how life has been treating them. You don’t usually hear someone say that phrase after suffering a tragedy. However, if you ask me right now, how am I doing, I would absolutely say, I am so blessed.
My family and I suffered a huge loss when our 100 year old farmhouse was internally destroyed by a large fire in October. This fire is thought to have started as a result of a lithium-ion rechargeable power-tool battery that exploded in our modern Florida Room that existed off the kitchen. The battery explosion caused a large fire that burned through two natural gas lines, exploding the windows into my kitchen, and destroying the lower area of my home. The heat, soot, water and flames took out most of our belongings, 99% of all of our clothing, and worst of all – our beloved dogs. So, why would I say I’m blessed? Let me explain.
First off, the fire started about half an hour after my husband and youngest two children left the home to meet me and my oldest son at a robotics competition. So, no one was hurt. I got the call from the neighbors and we arrived back home about 45 minutes later. The fire was out by the time we got home, so we were spared watching it burn. The firefighters were amazing in their efforts to save our structure. The firemen attempted to save our dogs, and worked on Rusty, our beagle, for 15 minutes with CPR and a dog mask. He didn’t make it — however they went back in and saved Carter’s (my middle son’s) fish that were in his room. The aftermath? One of those fish survived and is being cared for at a friend’s home for now.
While all of this fire-fighting and pet rescuing was going on – our friends and family had sprung into action. By the time we pulled into the driveway, there were several people there to greet us with unconditional love. My sister, Steve’s aunts and uncles, friends from work,
friends from my Boy Scout Troop, neighbors… they were all there waiting for us. They were there with hugs, love, tears… and then came diapers. Clothing. Food. Drinks. Blankets. I literally had a Suburban sized car load of clothing in my vehicle that night for my family from our friends. Over the next few days, we continued to feel this complete enveloping of love. We went to church like always, not realizing how many people already knew (as it is a very large church). Our pastor, Danny Cox was featured in TG Issue 3 in a story about how a Corvette helped him and his wife adopt his three daughters. He was there with hugs and love, and just so much encouragement. We were offered several homes to stay in, and my sister Ashleigh and I found a perfect rental (very close to our farmhouse) while at church and never needed a long term hotel or other accommodations.
Our Go-Fund-Me exploded, giving us the much needed instant access to money to start our lives over. (By the way, if you contributed to that anonymously, THANK YOU! Many of you did that… and this is the only way I know to reach you!) Our small groups at church sent gift cards for groceries, restaurants and anything else you can think of. Our kids’ schools rallied for us. And the people from the insurance company have been extremely helpful. Everyone I have come in contact with has been helpful.
One of the many things I had to deal with was itemizing the contents of our home, specifically things that were no longer identifiable. So, I had to sift through the Florida Room, Kitchen and office to make the lists of things I could find there (and things that I knew had been there
A family heirloom corner china cabinet.
but no longer existed). The lady who was assigned to me to assist with her crew was a blessing in herself. Toni, from Rainbow International knew my home, and was devastated to see that it was so badly damaged. She and her crew took the time to ask me about items before discarding them. They saved everything they could. And things they had to throw away were thrown away with respect. I felt like she truly cared. After working next to her in my home for two and a half weeks, she became a friend. She recently called me to let me know they saved almost all of my jewelry. Now realize, I don’t have thousands of dollars in precious jewelry. I have sentimental items from friends. I have necklaces from friends made with stones, and a gorgeous wooden necklace of a bird with her three purple eggs. Inexpensive items like this aren’t usually cared for – but Toni took care of my treasures. So, I was able to salvage a few things. Steve and the boys had similar treasures… Hot Wheels cars, model cars, Hess trucks, Boy Scout patches… a few of these were able to be saved. And we are sooooo grateful. Blessed.
Rusty (Beagle) and Harley (Lab) were brothers till the end.
People popped out of the woodwork to help with a major garden relocation, to prevent destruction from the demo. A new friendship was made from an old acquaintance that I had no idea was so similar to me. Many people simply stopped by to give me a hug, a helping hand, encouragement. My rental house is so white. Even the counters are white. I have all sorts of colorful dishes, small appliances, kitchen towels, etc now to help make this house feel more like ‘home’. My sister became my clone and took over mom duties while I was itemizing the farmhouse. My inlaws came over and decorated my kids’ rooms to help them feel ‘home’.
Understand, I barely scratched the surface here on the blessings that have arisen from this. Would I give it all back to go back to my home and have my dogs again? Of course. In a heartbeat. But the way I see it, I have two choices: Cry and lament, or push through and find something to fix and make better. I choose to see the blessings instead of the pain. Does it hurt? Yes… but there is so much love that I can focus on instead. I always go back to the first blessing… No One Was Hurt. I can hug my kids tonight, and kiss them goodnight. I am here to write this story.
My challenge to you is to try to find blessings in your world. They are there. If you can open your eyes, you will see them all around you. They may appear in the form of friends and family, or in nature, or in the passionate kiss of a loved one that you didn’t expect to get. Appreciate all these blessings, as you never know if you just petted your dog for the last time.
Some of the amazing friends that helped me create the “Love Garden” out of gardens that were going to be destroyed as a result of the fire repair.
Be kind, stay positive and love those around you. It matters.