A week ago this morning my son (Zak) and his family (Fatima and Ezra) had a house fire. He was the only one home and it all started with a candle standing too close to the wall on my grandson's nature table. fatima had left to bring Ezra to camp and Zak was working on his computer when he smelled smoke. He went out into the hallway to find the painting above the table was on fire. Already too big for him to do anything without a fire extinguisher. He quickly pulled on some pants ran downstairs and out the door and called 911. The fire department arrived quickly, in 4-5 minutes, and by that time the flames were shooting out every upstairs window.
It's been a week now, and what keeps filling my mind is something I remember Fred Roger's said,
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
And I am in awe with the helpers that have stepped up and shown love and care for our family. Things, even the smallest of gestures that could go unnoticed, just keep happening that bespeak love and the truth that people are actually really good. The world is more a kind place than a tragedy.
First, even before the fire trucks arrived, the neighbor that noticed my son was barefoot and cutting the bottoms of his feet and offered him a pair of shoes. And his old friend who somehow heard and showed up immediately. I still don't know how he knew to come.
And then I got a call from my son which I missed. Something made me call right back.
"Hey, I missed your call. What's up?"
"Mom, our house burned down."
"I'm not kidding you, everything is gone. Everyone is OK. Could you put out a group text to the family for me?"
"Yes. Then I'll be right there."
I notified his siblings. The group texts flew. Finally Zak said he needed to go. Get away. He needed to leave the scene. Yet we all still showed up. He laughed about this later. No one listened to him. Everyone came. That's how we do it in this clan. Just like the mural he painted on his kitchen wall says, there's LOVE beyond measure.
We all hung around in the driveway until the retched small of burnt life became too much. Everything was gone: clothing, toys, furniture, electronics, saved cash, keepsakes, and.... little Ezra's guinea pig. All they had were their cell phones and the clothes on their backs.
After an hour or so, we all scattered about to get them settled for the night. Luckily Fatima's mom has a furnished apartment where no one was living where they could stay until they figured out next step. One sister went shopping for pajamas and a change of clothes. She called ahead to our local children's store, Half Pint, to ask the owner to pull all of the size 4 and 5's off of the clearance rack. (When she got there Pam, the owner had a bag full of beautiful clothing she wanted to donate) A brother-in-law picked Ezra up at camp and took him home to play with his cousins and have dinner. Safe from the drama. Another sister started a Go Fund Me. Satchel and I went grocery shopping and to get Ezra a few toys, a teddy bear and books. The local toy store gifted more things. We got toothbrushes and toothpaste. This all happened within hours and it has grown so far beyond I cannot begin to mention everyone. But we know who you are and we are so grateful!
The next day, Friday, we took a down day to regroup and catch our balance. But the messages, texts, calls, emails poured in. It was astounding.
Then Saturday we all gathered back at the house to begin sorting through the rubble and the emotions. Things really began to sink in. Two whole families, Zak's and Fati's, and a pile of work gloves and masks began the dig to see what could be salvaged.
Even the children were there scrubbing the soot off of crystals and ad-libbing games from the rubble. Santa Claus was giving out toys and Mare's little bracelets created a game of ring toss on the juicer! Cousins learning what it means to be family.
And so life begins to rebuild. The magnitude of the disaster is settling in. Prescriptions, eye glasses, vital statistics, lawyers, untethered child. Fatima ended up with a severe infection in her eye that brought her to the ER last night for IV antibiotics and a CAT scan.
But I want to say again, as life begins to rebuild the support of our friends, family and community are their lifeline. People from years ago showing their love and support. Love from the most distant and unexpected corners of our lives! For this, I love Facebook! Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Truly. <3
As well, many people have so generously offered household items. Please keep them in mind. But they are not quite there yet. They are still finding their equilibrium and getting the essentials like glasses, prescriptions, toiletries, clothing, shoes. I imagine another couple of weeks or so and they will start to think of household items. We will certainly reach out at that time.
Here is the link to their Go Fund Me for those of you who aren't on Facebook and asked. And to everyone, please keep them in your prayers...they need your love especially right now. xoxoxo