I’ll be honest, having a house fire isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
At first you’re all “Whoo Hoo! I’m alive!” and nothing can get you down. You are clear on what matters and a house full of stuff doesn’t make the list. You’re not crazy or anything, YOU aren’t in denial. You just know what can be replaced: stuff, and what cannot: your family, so you’re happy.
But then you realize that you only have four pairs of underwear (1. you were wearing as you evacuated your burning home, 2-4 your sister purchased in a massive emergency shop at Target the same day but are not, alas, your preferred style) and you remember that laundry was never your strong suit back when you had your own home and about 30 pairs of underpants and you weren’t fire-addled.* And it occurs to you that this is what it’s like walking a tightrope without a net so you make getting more unmentionables your life work when you aren’t helping your children cope.
Unfortunately your kids really bug you. They are traumatized and CLEAR that a house fire is not a bag of giggles, so they’re needy. But you understand (because you’re a really good parent), so you listen and hold and talk and play, whatever the child needs.
Regrettably underpants buying gets shifted to the back burner and this is about all you do, other than meet with insurance people and try to get dressed every day. You find yourself, wandering around your room – and you are no stranger to a bit of wandering and a spot of disorder – but this is the limit; it takes you two hours just to get out of the house.
And then you remember that you HAVE to buy more underwear!
*The form of brain damage that Paul and I seem to have incurred. He’s dazed, which I was before the fire, but back then I had an extensive vocabulary. Now, if I had a dollar for every time I have said, “What’s the word, I’m looking for?” we could forget about the insurance and start rebuilding now.
Sherry C says
Glad you’re writing. I’m reading. Keep going.
Kim Boynton says
I heard about your fire on Facebook because I am friends with Dan Mattson. Today he referred to your blog so I went to check it out. Thanking God that you are all safe. Praying for you as you navigate what must feel like utter insanity!
Sherry, thanks. I finally opened your gift card. Thank you for that too.
The fire consumed my journals where I had recorded the funny things the big kids said when they were little. One particular ritual was, at night, I asked them their happy time and sad time each day. We began this when Christopher was 3 or 4 and Lydia was less than two. I wrote down what they said and the way they said it. It covered the period where Lydia’s speech and language passed Christopher’s although they both spoke with “accents”. Between the content – which wasn’t always true – and delivery, there were a lot of funny stories. All gone. They were both such wonderfully strange little kids. And now they are beautifully growing and they remain.
The record I kept of them then was a bright light during a very painful time. The house fire has nothing for pain on that. The fire has been more arduous than painful for me, but very painful for the children.
Short story: digital can be really, really good. I have many snippets of the last five years that will never burn…and the stories that remain. Digital and oral archival methods with paper in a fire safe box.
Kim, welcome. Thanks for stopping by and caring about us. Thank you for your prayers. They are felt.
Sherry C says
Gift card? Wish I could take credit for that one, as that would have been so thoughtful. Perhaps you have a fairy godmother. If I ever run into her, I’ll thank her for you.
What will we ever do if Blogger crashes? Must come up with a secondary digital back up system for the blogs.