Tuesday, 3 May 2016

It's Just a Door...

When I was 15 years old I was already out in the world working. I actually began my first job at a fast food restaurant at the age of 14...this place gifted me a lot of memories and some friendships that I still have today. As much as I don't like to admit it I was pretty naive back then. I have always been much wiser than my years, so even though I was responsible at a young age there were things about life that I just didn't get yet. I remember walking into work one day and noticing a big mason jar on the counter for collecting donations. I was curious about this jar but didn't pay much attention to what the donations were for. Part way through my shift as I was chatting with other staff I realized that the jar was for a coworker who had experienced a house fire and didn't have any house insurance. Back then I didn't really understand how serious this was let alone any emotional trauma that my coworker and her family were likely experiencing. I also didn't realize that one day I would TRULY understand the trauma she was experiencing. I'm pretty sure I didn't donate any money that day - and I really wish that I had of.

Today I understand about the emotional trauma and life changing results of a house fire. It has taken me a year to write this post because, honestly, I've spent a year looking at how a house fire truly flipped my life upside down and how I could flip it right side up again. It took me a year to come out with lessons, a light heart and tenderness toward the lives that courageously braved the fire in my family home that were miraculously spared. Nearly one year ago my childhood home that I was still living in at the time caught fire and the whole ordeal brought to light true connectedness among my family.

Most people that know me know that I am a highly intuitive and deeply connected individual. Last year on a warm afternoon in May I decided to meet my friend for a Starbucks on my way home from work. We sat and chatted for a little over an hour and the entire time I stared at her asking her if she was okay, how she was feeling and insisting that something was wrong. Each time I asked she assured me that she was fine. After asking her an inordinate amount of times I began to look around the coffee shop (sometimes I can pick up on whom I am feeling from...even if it is a stranger) and nothing seemed to click. My feelings of discontent continued to heighten and I was feeling very unsettled by not knowing what I was picking up on.

After our visit I was about to head over to the gym to meet another friend but before I left I pulled out my phone to see that I had about a million missed calls from my dad...he never calls me, he texts (his texts are quite humorous) so I was slightly alarmed. I listened to my voicemail and what felt like slow motion in a movie, I realized that my intuitive hunches were connected to my family. The voicemail was from my mom...she didn't leave details but said to call her right away. Naturally I called her back with a weird little feeling inside my stomach...Was she okay? Was my dad okay? What about my brother? Sister? When I called back my mom told me that our family home caught fire. Now I can't explain this feeling inside that came over me...I had no idea what type of fire she was talking about...I had burned our kitchen floor once as a kid cooking KD...this was different. This was more serious. She told me that both my brother and my father had been taken to the hospital and she was with the fire department, my dog and her bird.
(NOTE: to heal you must find humour...funny #1: mom, bird, dog, and firemen sitting on your front lawn)

I'm not even sure it was safe for me to drive home from the coffee shop that day. My entire system shifted into panic mode. How badly were they hurt? What about our home? Thank god my dog was safe. Never mind the dog, what about my parents and brother...Even though it was less than a 5 minute drive home I was in complete shock, everything within me was trembling with an unknown feeling that I didn't really understand until about 9 months later. We have this lovely thing called flight mode in our bodies when stress kicks in...and it wasn't until I met with my Osteopath that I realized how much I took in during that moment of initial panic not to mention the months afterward.

When I finally got home my street was blocked off so I had to park on another street and walk up to the scene, this was a VERY frightening feeling. Every step I took was spent bracing myself for what I might see. I had no idea what I was walking up to. In some strange stream of divine support I happened to know one of the firefighters quite well. Despite my seemingly okay but trembling mother sitting with her bird and my dog I walked up to the familiar face and asked him what happened in a foreign voice that was some version of my own. You see when you are in shock or flight mode something seems to come over you. I wasn't sure if I was going to cry, laugh or run into a hole and hide like a young child. Gently, my friend assured me that my father and my brother would be okay...they decided to be heroic and risk their lives for our home...dumb idea...but I invite you to tell an almost 65 year old man not to protect all of the hard work that he spent years putting into his home. My father went through the fire to turn off his electrical and my brother (quick thinking on his end) put an end to the fire. One might think with that - yay - the fire was stopped...another naive moment on my end as that was my initial thought but...SMOKE. Smoke, is worse than the fire itself.

Slowly my friend brought me through our home which REALLY stunk, and had soot everywhere, down into our basement where the fire had originated. As he brought me past my room I immediately began to panic...they had broken open my DOOR! What if I had unmentionables lying around? I was pretty irritated but I did remind myself that it was just a door...Nonetheless...People that also know me know that I am dreamer and visionary...often imagining the next amazing thing I am welcoming into my life...Ironically (or not ironically) a whole team of men did get to see my vision board which included a long list of must haves for my future husband..
funny #2: my future husband must have qualities on display in front of 15 men...

It's Just A Door...

He continued to bring me down the hall to show me the damage...an entire room in shambles. Soot everywhere...including on most of my teaching supplies. After taking a few deep breaths the perseverance in me took charge..."What do we do now?" I asked..."Can I go see my brother and father?" I went back outside and my friend gave me a pep talk about what would happen next... I went to get my brother and father. I didn't know if I wanted to punch them or hug them when I got there. Of course I chose the latter. Despite their macho mentality of saving the home and risking their lives, I love them so much and was just incredibly grateful for those two men covered in black soot from head to toe for the very fact that they were sitting ALIVE right before me. You see nothing matters except the ones you love, excellent reminder to let material grab go. They matter, their breath, their health...this is what matters...

This fire changed my entire life. The fire happened in a matter of minutes, it put us out of home for over three months, the insurance dealings went on for close to six months and we had to open our home to strangers for the clean up (who touched EVERYTHING)...bless those souls for the work that they do...but it does leave you with this weird invasive feeling of being exposed. I lost things in that fire that I didn't know that I had. The soot damaged our entire home and much of it had to be redone, thrown out or cleaned. For three months I lived out of a laundry basket, in other people's homes (thank heavens for amazing friends) and racked my brain to make sure I remembered what I had that was lost. I realized that this attachment we have to things in life is a scary thing. I learned who really and truly cares for me.

 I learned in a heartbeat that I wish I could send my 15 year old self some of this knowledge so that I might have dropped my paycheque into that jar. 

My family had insurance...which, yes, on one hand is good. On another hand that insurance can't replace your favourite shirt, makeup brush, family heirloom...it can only give you a fraction of what it once cost. I know how silly it seems to say makeup brush...but I am telling you...work on your attachment to things now, because in the light or...umm...heat...darkness of trauma...you'll be completely surprised at what makes you crumble. For me, it was those makeup brushes. When they threw them away I cried for hours. I didn't cry about the brushes, just to be clear, they triggered the tears...I cried; because my life was flipped upside down, because my family was still alive, because I didn't have a home, because I learned who truly loves and cares for me, because I still had to show up in the world when all I wanted was to crawl into a hole, because my parents were hurting, because my brother was scared and in shock of how quickly he acted, because I was sad and heartbroken to experience such a trauma. I cried because life has us so connected that despite not being home during the fire my entire body told me my family was in trouble.

Even though this fire is considered a trauma, and that it was, I have come out a stronger more aware person. I cherish each moment that I get with the people that I love and that love me. I cherish the coming and going of things that no longer serve me. I have an open home and heart to anyone that experiences this type of life trauma. I have a bigger more expansive heart that loves my family even more and that loves and cherishes my own life more and each lesson, breath, memory, moment, thought, space and time.

Almost a year later I write this post in hopes to heal any residual bitterness that I held from this fire, in hopes to continue to place my body back into a state of relaxation and allow it to flow in life, in hopes that others will treat this trauma as gently as they can when it happens to the people in their lives, in hopes that I build only healthy attachments from this point forward, in hopes that I continue to seek lessons and see lightness in all things...

And one more thing...to these purple tags....I will see the last of you! These purple tags came back on all of the clothes the cleaners took (many came back ripped, torn or missing altogether) and I'm STILL removing them!

These purple tags...

I'm kind of hoping that I find a few more 'funny' moments within this story...but until then...here's what has had me emotionally, physically and mentally cooped up for a whole year! 


  1. I remember when this happened and how long each step of the process took. I hope you know how truly patient you were, how grateful in times where other's would just be angry and frustrated. Like all things, I know you came out of this a stronger woman and I love that you can look back on it now and find some humour.

    1. Hahaha...it might have seemed like patience but inside it didn't quite feel like it...always lucky to find some humour...something I am sure we can discuss over some wine ;)