March 1, 2011.
I’m sure very few of you have had the misfortune of opening your eyes when you wake up and seeing piles of ashes were your house should be. I hope you never do.
Today we got up and had coffee as a family. I sat at the table and began to call places like dishnetwork and wildblue. I felt bad for these people. They are all cheery and ask well why are you cancelling, “Was it our service?” “No, my house burnt down.” Yea, they weren’t expecting that one. Then they try to do the good thing and console me. But really I’m just a stranger and they feel bad but they can’t wait to get off the phone. I called the insurance again, no luck. I started to write a list of people who had brought us things. And then, we finally got the news that we could go to our house.
We put on borrowed clothes. I found some rubber boots and gloves. And we went. Neighbors, who had not lost their home, were at our house waiting. They had shovels, rakes, and buckets. They had come to help us sift through the ashes. I was glad to have them there. Just to have other people surrounding me. I don’t think Chance and I could have done it alone. That in itself made me want to cry, but I didn’t.
I took that first hesitant step into the ashes. I was scared at that I might step on something, but it didn’t take long to realize there was nothing to step on. At first, I couldn’t see anything but then things started to pop out. The stove and mangled dishwasher with broken dishes wrapped in it. The twisted metal that used to be our mattress. Chance’s toolbox that could have been the refrigerator or dryer for all I knew. So we started sifting through the ashes.
We would get excited if we found something we could make out. Here’s a spoon! I found a vase! Hey I think this was your toilet! I had not prepared myself to walk away empty handed. It was absolutely without a doubt the most depressing thing I have ever experienced. After hours of picking up dusk, I told Chance I had to leave. There was no point in what we were doing. I thanked everyone that had helped from the bottom of my heart. I needed those people. And we left. I did not look back.
The Family went to Burger King. We were all standing in line and Chance looked at me and said, “You have ashes in your hair.”