On the second anniversary of our fire, I’m thinking of Colorado.
This time two years ago my house is a sodden mess and still smoking: a total loss from the perspective of insurance. I am at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, dazed but euphoric. I am technically homeless, but could not care less.
I’m not thinking about the stuff. I don’t care about the stuff. I didn’t have time to worry about the stuff.
Paul and the kids are safe. Hope, Lydia’s friend who was spending the night—God bless her—is safe. Jack, our beloved dog is safe. Max, the fledgeling sparrow Eden rescued just the day before is safe.
It is well with my soul.
We are all alive.
I feel great.
The good thing about someone setting your house on fire while you are in it sleeping, is you’re not given time to worry. Alarms go off and you slip right into shock.
Shock is awesome.
If someone sets your house on fire while you are in it, you are spared the thinking, the weighing and deciding, the trying to save things. You focus on saving lives. You lose every thing but, if every one is safe, you don’t care.
This time two years ago we are at Paul’s sister’s. It’s a second home for our children, so they begin to relax. The surreality has context: standing in your pajamas watching your house burn can’t be understood, sitting in Aunt Dawn’s and Uncle Thom’s living room watching your house burn on TV feels half way familiar.
Hope is scared. Hope wants her parents. They are on a rare get-away, attending a wedding. They have turned off the phone. They never turn off the phone but just this once they do. Hope calls and calls. No answer. Hope calls an aunt who knows the name of the hotel and reaches the parents who are across the state, more than two hours away. There are more calls and plans and a close family friend comes to get Hope.
I meet her at the door and smile widely. She is crying. I hug her. Yes, it’s terrible, but we’re fine. We’re OK. We’re going to be OK. I hug Hope. She could have stayed with us; we love Hope. I am oblivious to her need and fear.
I know Hope is leaving, but I can’t understand what that means, exactly. Too quickly, I will learn.
I don’t know what it’s like to have an impending fire. It must be terrible to have all the stress of flight and the extended worry in the possibility of loss. If your’e going to lose everything anyway, I prefer immediate shock and certainty of loss. But we can’t always choose our fires.
This morning, in my new home, my husband occupied by the banal tasks of turning on sprinklers, sipping coffee, writing bills, our children and dogs still sleeping, birds chirping, this peaceful, quiet morning, I am thinking of Colorado—and the elusiveness of the appearance of hope—and I’m praying.
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