We never know the pain of the people around us. I lived this in my first meeting post-fire… it had been less than 10 days but I knew I needed to jump in and start surrounding myself with normalcy. The problem is nothing is normal.
I decided to go to a Population Health meeting knowing that it was important and things were changing in the group. I stepped in just as the meeting was starting so I didn’t have to have any conversation prior. I looked around the table, it was a full house, which was exciting because we were trying to grow the team. The main thing that I thought about during the meeting was that no one knew at that table other than a handful of what I had emotionally experienced this past week. How many others sat at that table were grieving or had pain, or addiction, or were experiencing something that affected their every thought? Are they being supported? It made me sad, but I managed to hold back the tears. The truth is EVERYONE has battles and life-defining moments. We don’t realize how a simple smile or text that you are checking in can help. Sometimes people don’t know what to say… the truth is it’s alright to not know what to say. All you have to say is… I’m here for you. For whatever you need, and whenever you need it, I’m here.
I know this is going to be a challenge every day for a long time, nothing feels right. I focus on the little things, what I can manage, knowing that at some point it will get easier.
Thankfully I have great clients who become like a second family, they know my children, they know where I travel, and they know I truly LOVE what I do. My clients gave me time, to pick up the pieces and not have to worry about business. Knowing this I could focus on my family, our home, and finding a new normal.
Sleep deprived and emotionally strained I continued to stay strong for my three children. Over the weekend we spent times with friends and the girls were able to play as normal. They laughed and smiled, and its as if nothing traumatic had happened only a week prior, which is exactly my wish. That this does not affect them.
I now had a profoundly different view on almost everything. I looked around every house I was in and thought about all the “things.” It was an odd feeling that perplexed me. I drove slower, everything seemed to slow down to a crawling pace. The days seemed to be like weeks, every day we had meetings or had to meet at the house for a different agenda item. Things seemed to be moving quickly but being a realist I am I knew that it would be a full year before we would again have a home of our own.
We looked for the silver lining in every day, every moment. There was so much to be thankful for. Thank god we weren’t home, thank god it wasn’t at night, this could have been so much worst than it actually is. I tell myself this over and over, and likely will be for my entire life. My children aren’t scarred by running out of the home into the cold in the middle of the night and witnessing a fire, a fear they would carry with them forever. Thank God that was not how that day played out. We aren’t planning funerals as the fire was just feet above where my children slept every night for 3 years.
No one plans for tragedy, no one expects this. We fear it, but we never think… that is going to happen to me. There is a less than a 1% chance you will experience a house fire in your life… but we have a choice. This could wreck us or make us stronger. The choice is ours, and it will not define us.
We focus on the good. Our friends, our family, the outpouring of love, support, and prayers. I can feel those prayers, they calm me. They keep me standing, they keep me moving forward.
As we entered the weekend, the original plan was 3 birthdays, we made it to one. I found it difficult telling the story over and over, being surrounded by the notion of life goes on around you. That Saturday we went out as a family, to O’s where I felt I was being starred at my everyone, Jeremy assured me I wasn’t. By the weekend the kids had a full wardrobe and girls were excited to wear their friend’s clothes. We went shopping for a few essentials… which was emotionally devastating.
We went into Victoria Secret, Jeremy had just bought me new bras and underwear for Christmas less than a month before… now normally this would be a fun shopping trip but I found myself breaking down in tears and walking out of the store with the kids. Jeremy took care of the rest…
Shopping was downright horrible, a trip to Meijer to buy one bag of toiletries totally over $100… thankfully we had been given a number of gift cards but it didn’t help the emotional pain. Normally you don’t think about how much razors or toothbrushes cost… now I was aware of every item. I found myself in the toy aisle, tears filling my eyes as I looked at the shelves. My girls had almost every Barbie, that was there current “thing”… they loved playing in their room which is now currently non-existent.
Replacing material possessions brings up the emotional pain over and over, and likely will never stop… I pray time heals this pain.