We didn’t start the fire…..really!

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Been a while, friends!  Just as I left you with my idea of video blogging PCOS related content, I up and vanished.  I have a really good reason, I promise!  We had a house fire and have been out of our home since mid April.

It all started on laundry day, with my very last load of laundry.  The dryer had just buzzed about 15 minutes earlier when I noticed a burning smell.  I happened to look outside the master bathroom window and saw smoke coming from the dryer vent.

Immediately, I ran downstairs to investigate.  The first thing I did was unplug the machine.  I noticed a very small amount of smoke coming from the left side of the dryer (we have or should I say had, a stackable unit, to help you visualize) so I opened the dryer door, still full of freshly washed and dried clothes.  I pulled out the lint basket, and could see flames inside of the machine.  (Side note, I am super OCD about emptying the lint after every single load, always, and we had even recently taken apart the whole dryer and vent to vacuum every little bit of dust and debris!)

I ran and grabbed a cup of water, throwing it on the flames, which seemed to do absolutely nothing, meanwhile the smoke was filling the laundry room.

The power ended up going out, so I used my cell phone to dial 911 as I rushed to get the dogs outside and then ran out onto the porch with Sara while we waited for help.  It was pouring down rain, I was soaked, and completely freaked out.  We had no shoes on, my cats were still in the house, and by the time the fire trucks arrived, our house was billowing smoke.

I called Abe frantically after calling 911, telling him what was happening, and ultimately hanging up on him as I rushed around trying to figure out what I should be doing.  When he later showed up, I was shocked, it hadn’t even crossed my mind that he would leave work, that’s how scrambled my brain was, trying to digest what was happening.

I hurt myself, running barefoot up a wet, grassy hill to secure the dogs for the firemen.  I heard and felt a big POP, and was suddenly in excruciating pain.  It turns out I tore my calf muscle, pretty badly, and was in an insane amount of pain for several weeks to follow.

The cats were rescued by the firemen, and Abe, who had to collect Brady and Katie.  Moriarty was all chill, and let the fireman carry him and bring him straight to me.

The fire broke the main water line, which the fire marshal says helped to put out the fire.  I knew we had a lot of damage, but I honestly expected to be back in the house within a week or two.  That is, until the contractor told us his estimate for finishing was 3-4 months.  *insert jaw dropping shock here*

The amount of things we lost is mind numbing.  Nearly all of our clothing, I mean everything for everyone of us!!  My craft room and Abe’s office were completely destroyed, nothing left.  The vast majority of the kids toys, all completely gone, lost to the fire and water damage.

The playroom where we spent so much time, where we recently renovated with new flooring and built ins, completely destroyed.

Handmade gifts that took hundreds of hours to make, the kids artwork, photos, books, collectibles from childhood and little keepsake memories, all gone.

But you know what wasn’t gone?  My family.  My kids, my furbabies, even our aquarium full of fish!!  We are all safe, and other than my torn calf muscle, all completely unharmed.

What a BLESSING!!!

Our friends, our neighbors and our amazing dance family took care of us when there was no one else there to help.  When I woke up in the hotel room, hearing one of my babies coughing and then began to cry because I had no medicine, nothing to give them, our dance family answered with cough drops and toys and clothes and toiletries.  I cannot count the tears of gratitude I have shed, being lifted up by all of our adopted family members, when we had no one to turn to and no answers.

Yes, we lost all of our “stuff”, but it turns out we were rich beyond measure and never even realized it.

We spent about 6 weeks in the hotel, before the insurance company found us temporary housing at a rental house near our home.  On the second night in the rental home, we found ourselves once again surrounded by firemen.

A carbon monoxide alarm starting going off, just as we were preparing to go to bed.  Thank goodness, because when the fire department came out, and the fire marshal assessed the home, he told us had we gone to bed that night, not knowing about the leak, we would have likely never woke up the next day.

Take a moment to digest that.

After walking away from a house fire unharmed and living in a hotel for 6 weeks, we nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning.  All of us, the children, the dogs, the cats, we all could have died.

Well, if we weren’t insanely thankful to be alive before, we certainly were now!!!

Can you imagine?!

So back to the hotel we went, for about 4 days, while the water heater, which was the cause for the leak, was replaced.

Having endured so much, and roughing it with so little, we got a letter in the mail from our insurance company.  What we had expected to be a reimbursement check, turned out to be a non-renewal notice.  The insurance company decided not to renew our policy, right smack dab in the middle of a huge claim!!  The house is demo’d and awaiting construction, and now we had to worry about finding coverage for our home that was unoccupied and destroyed.  Let me tell you, it is not possible.  The answer, is lender forced coverage which can cost 10 times as much for less coverage!

This is when I officially shut down and started having full blown panic/anxiety attacks.  We’re talking, not able to sleep, constant fear and stress, worried we will lose our house!  I started imagining having to rent a trailer, losing the perfect home that we loved and worked so hard for.  It was extremely painful, and excruciatingly traumatic on top of everything else.  Absolutely the straw that broke this camel’s back.

We immediately called our agent’s office, who was shocked that we got the letter in the first place.  They vowed straight away to “rattle cages” and find us answers.  This all sounded good, but weeks went by and time was running out.  I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t leaving the house, I was super depressed beyond words.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we got the amazing news that they were able to get our policy renewed…..for a higher premium and higher deductible.  But still, the amount of amazing, sweet relief this gave us…….immeasurable.

So here we still sit, in the rental home, no construction started yet, grrrrr, waiting for some good news and very cautiously able to breathe again, hoping to have nothing but good news and happiness in our future.

We usually have big birthdays for our kids, something I absolutely love to do, but have not been able to do with the two kids who had birthdays since all this madness started.  And we are gearing up to have a third birthday away from home, along with starting the new school year.

I had really hoped we would be home by now, I miss our beautiful home, I miss our veggie garden and spending the days outside swimming or playing or just relaxing on our own furniture surrounded by our familiar things.

I hope we have big news on construction soon, and maybe the contractors will surprise us and finish ahead of schedule.  I won’t nit pick and get into all the other problems we have had with various companies, etc during this experience, because in the end, it just doesn’t matter.  What matters is family, and we are all still present and accounted for.  We will embrace this adventure, and I’m sure we will speak about it often in the future.

In the meantime, hug your babies and furbabies and spouses, tell everyone you love that you love them, and just be happy.  Life is too short for misery, and you never know which day is your last.

Love and blessings!!  xoxoxoxo

Saying Goodbye

I am not a funeral person.  I have this problem of being overly emotional, I truly wear my heart on my sleeve, and my skin is so thin you can see through it.  I cry at the drop of the hat and it makes me crazy.  Even in situations when I am angry, I can often be brought to tears.  It is a weakness that makes me crazy.

I have been to a total of four funerals in my life.  The first one was when I was 16.  It was for a teenage boy that I didn’t know, but a friend I was working with at the time wanted to stop in, so we did.  It was a huge funeral, the church was so full it was standing room only when we arrived.  We got there at the very end of the service, just when you are supposed to walk by the body and pay your last respects.  We walked up, I remember glancing at the young person in the casket, feeling completely removed from the situation, and then we left.  This funeral gave me a false sense of strength in dealing with future funerals.

The second funeral I attended was for my maternal grandmother.  I want to say I was 18 or 19 at the time.  I was dating Abe, so he accompanied me.  When we got there, to the tiny little room, my grandmother, who I hadn’t seen in far too long, was seemingly sleeping in the ornate box surrounded by flowers.  Reality suddenly hit me.  This was real.  This was family.  My grandmother was gone.  Went to pieces.  Like, ridiculous sobbing, my embarrassment making it all worse.  My parents were there, and my aunt and my little cousin who had to be 10 or 11 at the time.  My aunt and cousin actually lived with my grandmother and knew her so much better than I ever had, were so much closer to her, and yet they were able to compose themselves and behave like normal, sad but functioning adults.  Even my younger cousin.

My parents were not any comfort at all, I felt like my dad expected me to be tough and was disappointed in me, as usual.  I didn’t care.  I was embarrassed, but I was sad.  Only one of my uncles was able to attend, and with a shortage of pallbearers, Abe was pulled in, happy to help, of course, but I remember being even more sad that not enough people were there to pay their respects.  In all of my boo hooing, I realized that once you cry enough into a tissue, it becomes linty and crumby, leaving white residue all over the black clothing one traditionally wears to funerals.  This added to my embarrassment, but I assumed it was a one time thing because I was young, it was my first “real” funeral, and I would be so much more mature by the time I went to my next one.

The third funeral I went to came many, many years later.  Surely enough time for me to handle my emotions a bit better.  I was 28 years old and it was for my paternal grandmother.  This was the grandmother that used to come and get us for weekends at a time when we were younger, taking us to the movies, the zoo, visiting all of her many friends, etc.  We spent a lot of time with her, and years later, she spent a lot of time with my kids, Matthew and Isabella.

On the day of her funeral, we drove up to the funeral home, but I could not make myself walk inside.  I was crying in the car, I couldn’t bear to walk through the doors, see all of the crying faces, see my lifeless grandmother, be bowled over with the memories and the grief.  We waited outside and decided we would just go to the small ceremony at the cemetery.  We watched as they loaded her casket into the hearse, and then got in line behind the funeral procession, driving to her final resting spot.  Once there, with the warm sun shining on us, and the cool breeze drying the tears, I was able to look at her beautiful coffin, white and covered in gorgeously painted pink roses and say my goodbye and be at peace.

My fourth and most recent funeral was yesterday.  It was a rough one.  The mother of one of my closest childhood friends.  She was like a second mother to me, the “fun mom”.  Anywhere we went with her, we had fun without even spending a penny.  She had this amazing way of showing us the beauty in the small things, and her calm and loving nature was almost hypnotic.  I was fortunate to see and spend time with her off and on for the last 26 years that her daughter and I have been friends.  As much as I hate going to funerals, I knew I had to go to hers.  Not only for her, but for her daughter, who had been like a sister to me all these years.

When I found out she had passed, I cried.  A lot.  And then I cried some more.  I cried so much I had to take my foggy contacts out and just wear glasses.  I had hoped that I would cry enough to be over the initial shock and sadness, so I could attend the service like a “real adult”.  I wanted to be strong and supportive for my friend, for her daughters, for her mom.

Arriving at the funeral home, the same one my grandmother had been at years before, I instantly tensed up.  Walking through the doors, surrounded by the deafening quiet, I was very uncomfortable.  I saw familiar faces and I knew I should offer my condolences, but I couldn’t.  Abe pulled me over to a couch and forced me to sit down, to breathe.  I was focused on the large grandfather clock just a few feet from me, slowly ticking away, and almost amused at the real life metaphor of life’s temporary existence on Earth.

Finally it came time to find a seat, and so I chose one in the very back, both to avoid seeing the coffin as much as possible, and to have a quick escape if I began sobbing.  I was terrified of falling to pieces and upsetting the family, who had enough to worry about.  We sat in silence until I heard the familiar throat clearing of my dear friend in the hallway.  I felt a tiny sense of relief, but also more fear and pressure to hold myself together.  When she walked in, we made eye contact and I jumped up to hug her.  We chatted and I told her how sorry I was, feeling pretty proud of how well I was doing.  Then her sister walked up and took my breath away with her resemblance to her passed mother.  Suddenly I couldn’t hear the words my friend was saying and instead I felt my eyes fill with tears as she showed me pictures of her mom.  That quickly I had failed.  I was so upset with myself.  Here I am, supposed to be offering support to my friend, and instead, I am crying in front of her, before the service even started.

Needless to say, we kept our seats in the very back of the room, far from the grieving friends and family, where I could cry into my annoyingly disenigrating tissue.  I really need to remember to bring a handkerchief to these things, the tissue crumbs are the worst.

The service was beautiful, and I was able to walk up to the coffin and say goodbye to my dearly beloved “fun mom” without breaking into the ugly cry.  We followed the procession to the cemetery, as a final farewell, and then the day was over.

Death sucks.  I mean, it just does.  Are we ever really ready to say goodbye to our loved ones?  As beautiful and wonderful as Heaven surely is, are we ever really ready to send our cherished friends and family to those gates?

I would like to formally request that none of my friends or family ever die, because I just don’t enjoy funerals or saying goodbye.  No more death, no more sad, just happy, please and thank you very much.

Goodbyes Suck

They just do.  I have had the displeasure of saying goodbye to one of my closest, dearest friends this past weekend as she is packing up to leave the country.  Kind of hard to casually hang out when you don’t live in the same state, much less the same country.

I’m kind of mopey and sad today.  She is like family to us, and the house already feels empty knowing she won’t be here any time soon.

She spent the evening with us last night, and I was teary when she left, but just lost it once I stepped inside.  It’s so silly to cry, I know we’ll keep in touch and I’ll see her again.

I think there is something wrong with my eyeballs, they keep leaking.  Gonna have to have that looked at.