Five years ago today I had no idea that my life would be changed forever when I woke up that morning. I had no idea that the day would be one of the worst days in our lives. I laughed and happily sent the kids off to school. Cassandra to 3rd grade and Gabe to kindergarten. Aaron had changed his plans to stay and work on the studio and sub part of the day at Larned instead of going to a meeting. We were all excited about the new studio and the possibilities it brought for us. I was looking forward to babysitting and a first birthday session that night. The day was looking pretty good. Before Aaron left that morning, the lights dimmed in the house and we had low voltage. We did not know that there was a wreck and a pole had been snapped in half, we just thought it was due to the irrigation and pump jacks since it had been happening all summer and the electric company had been out several times. We didn’t think anything about it. Our cat, Mouse was very clingy that morning and wouldn’t leave me alone. He wanted held. The last thing I said to him was that he was being a pain in the butt baby and I would cuddly with him when I got home. Aaron left, and headed to town to work. I started to leave but spent a few minutes petting Mouse before heading out. I had left my camera and stuff I needed for that night on the couch and headed out the door. I got to the mailbox and had the strong feeling that I needed to go back and get it and the cat. I turned around and got the camera, but left the cat. We never took him with us and I was going to babysit so it was an absurd idea, had I only known the next part of the story. That was the last time I saw him.
I got to my friends house and she headed off to the dentist. Things were going well and it was almost time for one of them to get on the bus for preschool. I was just getting ready to start lunch for them when I got the phone call from Aaron. All he said was to take the kids somewhere and get home as soon as I could, our house was on fire. I remember telling them to get in my car now that we had to go because my house was on fire. I took them up the street to the school where Cassandra was and said that I had to leave them there and to call their dad who worked there. My house was on fire and their mom was at the dentist and I had to go. I ran out the door. The poor kids didn’t even have shoes on! I remember the panic and the shock that I felt driving home. Half way home I got another phone call saying that Mouse was gone and that the fire was bad. I about lost it then. Honestly I should not have been driving but by God’s grace I made it to the yard where I saw our home engulfed in flames. I knew there was no saving it. There were no fire trucks on the scene although several had been called. I stood there for over 45 minutes before the first one showed up. During that time I watched as the living room, Gabe’s bedroom, and Cassandra’s rooms burn to a pile of rubble before me as I could do nothing to save it.
There were lots of thoughts and tears at that time. Then the realization that we had to go and tell our kids that we were homeless and had nothing left hit me. I pray that none of you reading this EVER have to have that meeting. To tell them that their favorite pet was gone. It is a feeling that I can not describe other than total devastation. The looks on their faces as realization and understanding came across. To hold them while they cried. I still see it today if I think about it, which I try very hard not to do. There are many things that day that I am not writing about, but on this day I feel it is important to write this and get it out there.
You can’t go through something like this without it effecting you. The pieces of life that you have to pick up and go on with. The feeling of hopelessness and emptiness can overcome you. It has changed every single one of us. It is a part of who we are and we can not change that, we can only change how we let it control us. There are many other pains and trials that come with this story and I wish I could say that they don’t matter because we are all together and have each other, but I would be lying if I wrote that. Yes, being together and having family is all that matters, but learning to live together again with the way it effects each one of us is something new. It is not easy, nor fun, but a process that we are on. Unfortunately for some of us we now have a built in defense mechanism from the harsh words that some said afterwards. There are scars there that are extremely deep, especially for Cassandra. Kids can be so very mean. A devastation like this changes you in ways that you may not even know or realize. It can turn you into a person that you no longer recognize nor want to be. It allows the devil to slip in and take almost literally everything from you if you are not aware of it including your soul. The fight is hard and exhausting. I can literally tell you that stress can and will kill you if you don’t learn to handle it, one of which I am still in the process of doing. Yes, through it all God has been with us, but that does not mean it has been easy or joyful. Five years seems like such a long time in some ways but in others there are scabs there that are not completely healed yet. We are very thankful for God being with us and staying with us through it all and we are thankful that we are all still alive . I will be honest that in the past 3 years I have had times where I have been angry that I am still alive because of the pain I have felt and been through. I can now see that it was a process that I had to go through for myself to be who God wants me to be. I have been angry with God and have questioned and if that makes me a bad Christian, then so be it, but it is the honest truth and something that God knows already. I know that I am very blessed to be alive and that God saved me for a purpose. If I would have been home we are 98% sure I would not be here today. There was a fireball that blew out of the wall directly across from where my computer was. If I would have been home I can almost guarantee you that I would have been sitting there working. If Aaron would not have changed his mind and decided to sub that day I would have been left to deal with this all on my own. Looking back you can see the different ways that God was there, although at the time there was too much pain and shock to see that. Perhaps one of the biggest pieces of evidence that he was there and has a bigger plan for us is this, the bible that my mother gave to me for my 20th birthday. It was laying where everything else around it was disenigrated. I don’t know how was saved and more amazing is that you can ready every single page of it. Evidence was there that God was with us that day, but somehow we missed it. It is now 5 years later and we are doing well. The kids are happy and we are all doing fine. There are still struggles and days like today are one of them, but we persist through them and try to do our best. Things can either break you or make you they say, but I disagree with that. They can break you, and for us they did, and then remake you. I ask that you remember that everyone has a struggle. You don’t know what a person has been through so treat them with kindness. You may see a strong person on the outside, but on the inside they may be dying and lonely. You may see someone act out of self-defense and have guards up, but they have been so hurt in the past and don’t want to be hurt again, be nice to them. We are all called to be loving humans, so I encourage each one of you that read this, whether you are Christian or not, to be nice and smile to every person you see. You don’t know how far that smile will go in someone’s life. For some, it may just be the smile that saves their life. Spread seeds of kindness knowing that you may never see them bloom but be assured that you have at least planted them. Thank you for reading this little piece of our background and some of the struggles we have been through. It may help you to understand us better. There are always people there at the beginning of the crisis, but please do not forget about them in the middle and the end. The struggles and pain of a devastation lasts lots longer than just a couple of months, in fact it can call many years.