On August 28th 2016, 6:30 pm, our lives were turned upside down. I remember the look on our roommates face when he raced down the stairs within two steps and yelled FIRE! It was pure terror and confusion. I soon joined his expressions after I ran upstairs to see if I could help and quickly realized there was no hope. I yelled at my 6 friends that were downstairs to get out! Call 911 and GET OUT! By the time we had reached the end of our short drive way, did a head count including the dog, and looked back at the house, we could all tell this was going to be devastating. The flames rose far above the roof line and even past the trees beside it. At that point we couldn’t fully see how dramatic it was because we were at the farthest corner from where the fire had originated.
I knew 911 was being called, so I had to make the call to my husband, who had our 20 month old daughter at his Gramps for dinner that night (Thank GOD!!)
“THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE!!!” click… his phone died… Could you imagine what was going through his mind? Is this a stupid prank? Is everyone OK? Is this for real? He called me back from a different phone, I don’t even remember what I exactly said to him, but I remember my feeling of absolute helplessness and sorrow. This was his first house, he bought it right before him and I started dating, he had put so much of his heart and soul into fixing it up… I just felt so…bad… He arrived at the house right after the fire fighters got there and started fighting the blaze. We found each other somehow within the crowd of fire fighters, police, neighbours, and people who stopped to see what was happening.
All I could do that evening was cry.
To watch flames destroy your home… your life, and be completely helpless was the toughest part about that evening. Everyone kept coming up to me and hugging me and saying “It’s just stuff, it can be replaced, no one was hurt, that’s the main thing” I knew all that to be true and still stick to those comments today, but to actually watch it ALL be destroyed, to watch all of our hard work be destroyed, our comforts, our home be destroyed, was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
We had pictures taken the day before by our real estate agent… yes we were just about to put the house on the market.
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All I kept thinking was… what is Myra (our daughter) going to do without her favorite stuffed animal and blanket?? She wouldn’t go to sleep with out them, and wouldn’t let me lift her from her crib with out having both in her arms. What was she going to do now?
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When the fire fighters seemed to have the blaze under control and almost stopped, a million questions were asked from a million different people it seemed… Fire chief, police chief, victim services, friends and family that unfortunately found out by driving by or seeing the news on social media.
We were bombarded with calls, texts and messages by friends and family. All the while trying to see what our insurance was, if we had any at all, going over the exact events of the night with police, fire marshal, fire chief and victim services. It was all so very overwhelming. Austin was such a rock, he didn’t show any signs of breaking down. He held it together so well for the horrible situation we were in. Whenever he could, he would give me a hug and tell me everything would be alright. Man do I ever love my man!
I remember feeling so bad for the ladies that I had over… and still do. We were all getting together, a bunch of moms or ladies that just needed a small break from their reality for an evening.
My friend Amber had planned the night. “Evening under the stars” was what it was supposed to be, but the rain had forced us into our basement. She did such an amazing job at decorating the space to create a different reality for all us all for the night. Just take a look at what she created… just amazing! But instead of some wine and sushi, we had a night of terror and confusion. Most of them running out of the house with out their jackets, or even shoes.
All the ladies were asked question after question… not knowing if their car keys were destroyed in the fire, not knowing when they could go home to their families.
At about 9pm the fire was completely out. Austin and I were cleared to leave and were able to go to the comfort of my mother-in-laws home after we picked up our daughter. The best thing that happened that day was when I could hug my daughter. I did my best to keep it together, to not let her see me cry, I think I did a good job, but I don’t remember. I do remember being so heart broken when I was getting Myra ready for bed, I remember saying to her, fighting back the tears, “It’s going to be a little different for a while little one, You have a new stuffed animal, I know it’s not the same but this one is even softer! But the main thing Myra, is that we are all together, Mommy, Daddy, you and Hella (our dog) are all sleeping in the same room together and we all love you and are going to be OK!” Then I sang her our lullaby and put her in the play pen. She slept through the night!
She was the only one that did. I slept for a total of 2 hours, my hubby barley slept, and our roommate who was on the couch didn’t sleep a wink. It was the longest day followed by the longest night.
Our lives changed within a couple of hours. Everything we had was destroyed. We were forced to start fresh.
And that is exactly what we are doing.
For about 2 months before the fire, I was so consumed with getting the house ready for resale. Austin would come home from work on the weekends and we would get down to business. During the week, the days I didn’t work I would be refinishing something, painting walls, cleaning something. Looking back, I hate the admit it, but I barely played with my daughter. She watched so much Paw Patrol because it would keep her occupied while I checked things off the list.
Since the fire, we are looking at life differently, taking full advantage of being a family! We go on walks together, go to the park as much as we can.
The other day we took a spur of the moment trip down to Portland and Long Beach! Oh boy did our daughter ever love the ocean!
It has been just over 2 months since we lost our home. But we are doing great! The donations from our community and loved ones was outstanding! Myra didn’t go without anything, she had toys, clothes, diapers, wipes etc.
We know we have a very long road ahead of us dealing with insurance and rebuilding our home, but we plan on doing it as a family. We are growing together, learning new things about each other, and loving every minute of it!
Some words of advice I would give, wishing that you would take it before learning the hard way like we did, is live in the moment. Life is short, and can be turned upside down in a second. So live in the moment and enjoy the people and things around you!
I am going to share with you our process going forward. I look forward to your support!
Thanks so much for reading!