The House Fire: Aftermath

So, it’s been more than 6 months since the house burned down.  Several people have asked how we’re doing now, so I thought an update post would be the easiest way to answer.  The shock wore off long ago and the depression that I convinced myself wasn’t depression, is gone.  Now, it’s just the Aftermath.

First and foremost is the housing situation.  We are so blessed to have a home to live in but it’s not where we want to be.  It’s out of our kids’ school district, it’s too far from church, and it’s in a town that smells like cabbage farts.  (There’s a paper mill here.)  We’re working on getting back to our normal smelling town.

Second, is the kids.  Now, to look at them, you wouldn’t suspect anything is wrong.  And I didn’t, until I asked my 12-year-old a question in a moment of frustration because he was taking too long to get in the car.

Me:  Why do you have to carry so much stuff with you all the time?  We’re just going to the store.

Him:  Do you remember what happened in June?

Me:  Dead silence.

What could I say?  The poor kid is toting all the stuff that’s most important to him around everywhere he goes.  I wonder how long he’ll do this.  How long until he feels comfortable leaving it behind.  I look forward to the day he stops worrying.

Junk Lady from Labyrinth

Hope this isn't my son is 50 years time...

After that, I noticed my Autistic son is stimming more.  His talks nonstop and his fingers are never still.  He knows how many days ago, exactly, that the house burned down and I’ve noticed he classifies events as “before” and “after the house burned down.”  He’s autistic.  He needs normalcy, routine.  Of course he’s stressed.   How awful of me not to notice.

pink flower guitar

Pink guitars make everything better.

The other three are taking it better.  My daughter, once she got her guitar and an MP3 player to replace her one-week-old birthday presents,  shows no signs of stress.  Number 4, who could only remark on the condition of the relatively undamaged porch when the rest of the house was burning to the ground, talks about the fire like he saw it in a movie or something.  Number 5 is two, so she doesn’t care.

Hey, 3 well-adjusted, if not materialistic and/or clueless, children out of 5 ain’t bad, right?

Then, there’s the husband.  He’s found refuge in golf.  Playing golf, watching the Golf channel, talking about golf.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he dreams about golf.  Golf, golf, golf, ad nauseam.  I mean, it has to be stress about the house, right?  Otherwise, he likes the most boring “sport” in all the world and that is unfathomable.  (Sorry, honey, but I like to take digs at you on the blog where you can’t do anything about it.  Love you. *wink*)

ugly loudmouth golf pants

If he starts wearing these, I'm having him committed.

Then there’s me.  You know that expression, “Eating your feelings”?  Well, let’s just say that I’ve eaten the feelings of every person whose ever had anything bad happen to them since the beginning of time in the last 6 months.  That translates to a whopping 15 lbs. of extra weight on my already overburdened frame.  It’s ridiculous.

Oh well.  Problem acknowledged, so now I’m doing something about it.  No, I’m not sharing what I’m doing or posting fat “before” pictures and asking you to hold me accountable.  I still have my dignity (what’s left of it after writing the term, “cabbage farts,” anyway.)  Okay, maybe just one picture.

big beach ball

Picture this with arms and legs and my head. That's me, exactly.

Point is, we’ve all dealt with the house fire incident in our own ways.  None of them terribly bad.  I don’t think any of us are scarred for life.

Unless the husband does start wearing those ridiculous golf pants.

Related Articles:

House Fire Leaves Family of Seven Homeless
Putting Our Money Where Our Mouths Are


42 thoughts on “The House Fire: Aftermath

  1. Heartbreaking, 12yo and his stuff. I do hope he manages to get past that quickly. I empathise with all of your feelings for a different reason, and look forward to hearing about the home you eventually move into!

    • They are Austin Powers pants, aren’t they? He read this and he’s offended. He actually wants a pair of these pants. Or the knickerbockers with the long argyle socks. No word if he plans on wearing the tam with the fuzzy ball on top. Geez, what happened to the chucks/band T-shirt/corduroy jacket wearing guy I fell in love with? Growing up stinks.

  2. I’m so glad that no one was hurt in that fire. I think everyone is coping very well, and things are definitely not as bad as they could have been. Maybe your son just needs to talk to someone, though? It couldn’t hurt, even if it’s a little further down the road.

  3. I appreciate your honesty. It’s gotta be terribly hard to deal with your life being turned upside down (and I know it was worse than that). Seems like you’ve all come through very well.

    When my kids were 2 and 4, we lived in FL and got hammered with a really bad hurricane. We only had eleven thousand dollars worth of damage to our house and we lost our car, but not all of our neighbors were so lucky. Some had trees split their house in two. For years every time my daughter saw something broken or damaged, she would say “The hurricane did it.” They were afraid every time it started raining. I guess what I’m saying is it takes time to adjust to things after something terrible happens.

    Before too long, I bet your sons starts to feel secure enough to leave some of his valuables behind when you go to the grocery. Your bravery in the face of devastation is inspiring. You’re a strong woman and have a wonderful family. I just hope your hubby doesn’t buy a pair of those pants. 😉

  4. My house caught on fire when I was 12 years old, fortunately it was only the kitchen, and the rest of the house only had smoke damage. My siblings and I just thought it was an adventure, at least, I know I did. Of course, we didn’t lose everything. We were just grateful to all be safe and healthy.

    I can’t even imagine if we had truly lost everything we owned. It sounds to me like you have a brave bunch of kids, and I’m glad that you are all coping so well. Just noticing those emotions and behavior is a huge step and a help. God Bless you!

  5. Soccer and golf. Golf and soccer. Not sure which one wins the boring stakes.

    Erin, you’ve done amazingly well, given the circumstances. You’ll get there, just keep moving forward, a step at a time.

    Hugs to you all!

    PS – Agree with Becky above!!

    • You’re sweet. Humor is vital in all things.

      “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs – jolted by every pebble in the road.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

  6. Considering all that has happened since the fire, I really appreciate the way you’ve written about your family’s coping methods with such grace and humor. Erma Bombeck (one of my personal heroines) would be proud of your pithy but kind tone. So impressed by you and this post.

    Now, personally, I think I could deal with the golf pants. Those golf hats with the huge pompoms at the top, though, might require a family meeting. 🙂

    • Erma Bombeck is great. She understands the importance of humor in life. As for the hat, I fear he’s capable of it. Let’s just hope he takes my feelings into consideration.

  7. I hadn’t known about the fire until this post. But I’m impressed at how well you are all doing, and no doubt how you are holding the scotch tape. And I’m sure the healing will continue.

  8. Erin, a feeling of heaviness just filled my chest as I read this. I was 11 when our house burned to the ground one morning when we were at school – we lost everything. The little town’s old fire engine chugged up the hill and the hose burst the minute they tried to pump water with it.

    At that time, only two of 5 kids still lived at home – a brother and me. Mom taught school and dad, usually away for weeks at a time, just happened to be home.

    Nothing was salvaged. We had to all go to different friends’ homes, borrow clothes to wear and live there until school finished. Then we moved to a nearby city. My poor mother was devastated.

    For the rest of our lives, that fire was a bench mark, “Did that happen before the fire or after?” “Do we have those pliers or did we have them before the fire?” It was right up there with world wars!

    When I read about your children…please make sure that none of them are carrying ANY suspicion that it was their fault. It’s amazing how children re-work things to make it connected to them.

    From the time I was 11 until I was 43, I really believed I burned our house down. Everyone in my house smoked. Every once in a while, I’d play grown-up and sneak a puff or two. That day, before school, I grabbed the cigarette my mother had forgotten in the ashtray, took it upstairs to my room and smoked it. I put it out in a waste paper can and dashed off to school.

    I grew up knowing God forgave me, but I could not forgive myself.

    When I FINALLY talked about it to my parents, at age 43, I asked their forgiveness. My mother, looking shocked, said, “Didn’t you read the Inspector’s report when we got it?”

    “No, I wouldn’t go near it. I just knew it said it started in my room.”

    So, 32 years later, Mom told me…the inspector found the cause of the fire and it had started in a part of the house that was nowhere near my room.

    My mother was devastated that I’d needlessly carried that guilt all those years.

    So you see, Erin, I can empathize with my very soul!

    • OMgoodness…I know this happens…children feeling responsible…my heart goes out to you even now for all the years you believed it was because of you. And your mother..her heart must have broke when you told her … I’m at a loss for words. One of my worst fears every winter but knowing it can happen at any time. Bless you.
      Thank you for sharing.
      Peace and love,
      Siggi in Downeast Maine

    • Oh sweetie. That is terrible. I am so sorry you carried that guilt for so long. I will definitely have this conversation with the kids. We’ve told them it was electrical but who knows what goes through their minds? Thank you for sharing this and I am so glad you can finally let the guilt go. I imagine that was a huge load off your shoulders. God Bless You!

  9. NOT awful of you not to notice. You totally noticed just now. I’m pretty sure that losing all of your worldly possession AND your home is up on the top ten list of the most stressful and devastating things a person can live through. You all deserve a break (well, except your husband, if he starts wearing those pants).

  10. Wow! That you can write and laugh about cabbage farts and kookie golf getups now is amazing to me! You are awesome. My son goes to school with a girl whose house burned down last week. What would be the best thing we could do for them? Money and prayer?

    • Money and prayer are good. Also, one of the things we did was to replace the kids’ favorite toys. I know it seems frivolous, but that stuff is important to kids. A gift card to a toy store or even the Wal-Mart, just for her would be a nice gesture.

  11. I feel for you and your children. A house fire is a devastating event and it never leaves you. I know. Our house burned down when I was a child. If you care to visit my blog you’ll read a post that I wrote just today. It’s unbelievable to me, that to this day, I still can feel the fear, and the loss and the abject awfulness of the whole event. I was only 6 years old at the time; I am going to be 54 this year. Though we’ve all gone on to live perfectly ‘normal’ lives, going through something so traumatic marks you for life.

    • Thank God we weren’t home when the fire started. We were at church and a police officer came and told us our house was on fire. We had about 15 minutes to process the information before actually seeing it. I can’t imagine how the terror would have affected the children. So thankful they didn’t have to go through that and I’m sorry you had to. Bless you.

  12. My heart goes out to all of you…even your husband hiding in golf. You didn’t mention if he did this before the fire. I know someone whose husband tapes the golf tournaments on tv and then rewatches them several times. In addition to playing golf at the first light of morning.

    The children, I can relate to the one that keeps all his favorite belongings with him. I would too. Please know I and all the others care…deeply. And please write about this as often as you need to …
    Peace and love,
    Siggi in Downeast Maine

  13. What a sincere post! Wish all the best in the future for your kid-quintet, your husband and you.
    Also, hope you will all soon return to your dear non-cabbage smelling town.

  14. Sending lots of love, light and healing your way to you and your lovely family. What a harrowing experience and aftermath is putting it lightly for what the psyche endures. Before I read this today, I nominated you for some awards, details are on my page. After reading this, it only confirms what I said about your blog pages even more. Thanks for sharing another of your life experiences with us, Erin, hugging you from afar 🙂

  15. Love you girl! You do what you NEED to do for YOU! I love reading your posts. They always make me smile. I had forgotten you had an autistic son. I know God will bring him growth from this experience. He will learn to accept change a little better because his world was forced to change–and that will be a good thing for him. I believe it.

    I hate it when our children suffer and we miss it–especially when it has been something so traumatic like this. My heart and prayers will be going out to your family for health, healing, and empowerment from this moment of destruction; that it will birth a new and deeper strength, hope, and powerful, abundant life. 🙂

    Love and blessings,

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