The things we lost in the fire

My six year old daughter woke me up at 2 a.m. with growing pains in her legs. I rubbed some oils onto her pains and she quickly fell back to sleep. Yet, here I sit three hours later, still mulling over the events of the previous day. I am emotional and exhausted and just plain sad. My way of making sense of things it to write, and even though no one will probably read this or care, I have to say what is on my heart.

Yesterday, I woke up just like it was any other day. Like most Americans, I hopped on to social media and the news to see who won the election. Unlike most Americans, I didn’t have a specific “horse in the race,” because I honestly felt like neither candidate was up for the job. They both had their faults and I know that there are so many better options out there, but for some reason we were not offered them. I was genuinely shocked that Hillary wasn’t elected, but relieved at the same time. Personally, I can’t wait until we have our first female president. But I want a woman that I can talk about with my children that has genuine integrity and honesty as her incredible characteristics. I don’t want to start a fight, so please read to the end before passing judgement.

This post isn’t specifically political, it just happens to be because this is a pivotal moment for our country right now. Unlike so many other people that I saw splashed across my news feed, I wasn’t depressed or despondent by the news of the election, because I knew that whoever won was going to bring some positives and some negatives. I knew that whoever won, we were going to have to hunker down and figure out how to get through the next four years, for better or for worse.

My kids and I carried on with our morning, preparing for our homeschooling lesson.  But then I received a frantic call from my sister in law trying to reach my husband, her brother, at work. Their parents’ house was on fire and she was headed there to find out more. Chris rushed home and we headed over as well to offer support and help if we could.

By the time we got there the entire upper level of their beautiful home, hardly seven years old, was engulfed in flames. Thick black smoke was billowing out of the windows and roof and simply floating away over the fields, unaware of its nefarious part to the story. There were firefighters there from all of the surrounding towns and all they could do was work to keep the fire from spreading to the adjacent structures.

It was devastating to sit there and watch as all of their belongings went up in smoke. It was heartbreaking to know that there was nothing that any of us could do to fix it or make it better. I felt so sad for my mother and father in law as we all watched this tragedy, knowing that it wasn’t just stuff that was burning. It was mementos from when my husband and his sister were children. It was all the special gifts that my children and their cousins gave to Grandma and Grandpa, from the 1st year hand printed messages to the scribbly “I love you’s!” It was the pictures and prized pieces of history that reminded them of the people who they loved and lost. It was the private moments of a loving family, left now to our fickle memories to recreate.

All that any of us could do was thank God that no one was in the house when this terrible tragedy struck. My husband’s parents could have been sleeping when the electrical short happened and engulfed their bedroom only minutes after the smoke started pouring through the house. Our children could have been having one of their sleepovers with Grandma and Grandpa. You have to remind yourself of these things, that “could have been worse,” so that you can find a way to deal with the hard heavy reality of what just happened. As the firefighters sprayed water onto the house, beautiful rainbows reflected off the water. I told my children to remember that rainbows are a sign of God’s love for us and to know that in the end everything with be okay.

In an attempt to try to help, we reached out on social media looking for support and starting a GoFundMe page. While we had many friends and family reach out to offer their kindness and support, it was at that time I was struck with what was going on outside of our personal misfortune and saw so much hatred and fear and riots occurring because of the election I had read about only a few hours before.

Wow! Just wow. Life is short people. Tragedy strikes when we least expect it and you can never truly prepare yourself for the “what-ifs” in life. Every minute that passes by is one that we will never get back again and there are so many things in life that are so much more important than whether or not your candidate got elected.

While some of you were tucking your kids into bed last night wondering how you are going to get through the next four years, I was explaining to my eight year old’s question what it means when “someone is in shock,” because he sat and watched his grandparents literally become homeless. While some of you were composing hateful words for those that don’t agree with you politically, I was reassuring my six year olds that they weren’t going to burn up in their sleep, because daddy and I would check our smoke alarms and make sure that our electrical panel wasn’t faulty. Knowing in my heart that there is no way anyone could have prevented the fire that happened today and all I can truly do is pray that my promises don’t fall short.

I get that issues involving race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, education, medical care, and on and on and on are all important things to think about and to care about and take a stand on. But addressing these issues through fear is not the answer. Becoming enraged, hate filled and spiteful is not the answer. Spreading false propaganda is not the answer. We as humans have a limited number of days to be here on Earth, each one of us here to do our part. Each one of us is unique and beautiful and amazing with a gift to share that no one else has and we are wasting the opportunities that we are given daily. One day tragedy will strike and your time will be up. Stop wasting your time. I refuse to let you waste my time.

The only answer to our problems, social, political and all others, is to LOVE unconditionally. I absolutely know that it is human to feel emotions. I get that you might be angry or upset or depressed, and that is okay. Go stand by a river/ocean/lake or walk in a park/forest/get fresh air and hang out with those feelings. Hold them in front of you, look at them deeply and thank them for being there. Thank them for showing you the pieces of you that get triggered. Thank them for showing you the parts of you that you need to spend some more time with. Thank that darkness that wants to be seen and acknowledged and then LET IT GO!  Forgive yourself and forgive others for the misunderstandings that we continue to project onto each other. Learn to listen without reacting and letting your ego run the show. We are better than this!

There is so much beauty in our world. There is incredible kindness, compassion, love, and empathy everywhere you turn. It is there but you have to be able to see it. You can’t muddle up your vision with your fear goggles on, tainting everything you hold dear. I promise you that we can get through the next four years if we do it together with love in our hearts. I am certain that we can get through the next several thousand years if we can learn how to come together as one race, the HUMAN race. If we can learn how to heal our personal wounds and then work towards forgiveness, then we can do anything. If we can learn how to accept each other just as we are, as imperfect people just trying to do our best, then maybe just maybe we can stop feeling victimized by the uncertainty and fear that has no place in our hearts.

There is one thing that I have realized over my adult life that stands out from all of my life lessons. It is that I am truly blessed. I am blessed with friends, family, and people in my life that know how important it is to stick together and support each other when times are difficult. Tragedy strikes whether you are ready or not and the only way we will ever move forward is by doing it together. “United we stand, divided we fall” is something the history books tell us, but are you ready to listen yet? Are you ready to be a part of the change that is going to make our world livable for everyone? You can start today by having integrity and showing respect towards others. You can do this by speaking to others with kindness, treating others with gentleness and compassion, holding space and love for the people in your life that you may not agree with. You can choose to agree to disagree and you don’t need to say anything more. You can speak up for others who may not have a voice in your daily interactions. You can let go of the fear based emotions that only further the pain and sorrow that our world has seen too much of. You can stop judging others. You can forgive and move on.

Or you can fan the flames of the fire that is consuming our nation/our world and own your part of it burning down. The choice is yours!

I am not perfect and these words are something I also have to remind myself to practice. But I am willing to do the work because like you, I am a Masterpiece in progress and you are all worth it to me. I pray for the day when humans can learn to love rather than hate. I pray that you will choose to do the work to make this happen, because we all have our part to play.

I thank you for hearing me. Please say a prayer that my husbands parents can recover smoothly from their tragedy and I will pray for you and whatever your situation is. I send my love to you, please receive it and send it out to another who needs it. Hear the tears in my voice and the plea in my heart, we are better than this!


P.S. Music is a way I process life and it speaks from my soul in a way I can never seem to express in words. This song is exactly my soul mood right now.

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