We had been married just over six months, I had graduated from college and was now teaching full time at the Central School. I was learning how to be a wife and teacher. I was trying to find the balance between friends, family, work, and being a newlywed. Spiritually and emotionally I seemed to really be growing. Life was good. Life was simple. We were happy.
It was in the wee hours of the morning on February 9th, 2005 that our phone rang. David jumped up and answered. Even in my sleepy daze, I knew something was wrong. David hung up the phone and as calmly as he could, told me that my parents were at the hospital. Their house caught on fire and my mom was burned, but she was okay. We were to go straight to the hospital and not to the house ( Here is the original article from the newspaper House Fire Article ).
My heart stopped. But my mind started spinning. The house was on fire? How badly was mom burned? Were my dad and brother okay? How did they get out? What if they aren’t okay? What if they want me to think they are okay and everyone is dying? What if I have to bury my mom, dad and brother? Oh, God. I can’t. I can’t. Please let them be okay. Please.
When we got to the hospital everyone was fine. Mom had had minimal burns to her feet and a few other places, but nothing that wouldn’t heal with time. Our pastor brought clothes for my dad and brother since they only had time to run out with what they had on. I can’t express the relief I felt that they were alive and okay.
A few hours later, just before dawn, we rode over to the smoking, charred shell of my childhood home. I watched as a few small flames flickered and danced. I don’t remember a whole lot, just the feeling of shock; the reality of what I was staring at had yet to sink in. I do remember the smell. I don’t think I will ever forget that smell.
The next day was somewhat of a blur. I remember that my parents stayed in Jasper with my grandparents. I pushed mom through Walmart in a wheel chair as we tried to figure out what necessities they would need. There was no forward planning. It was just one step in front of the next, one breath at a time. Where would they live? When would they go back to work? What would they wear? Would they rebuild? Buy a new home? Move away? Make it financially?
I think the hardest question of all, though, at least for me, was where was home? I know logically that a house is a house and that’s that. But that was not only my childhood house; it was my home. Home. Friends over. Game nights. Sleep overs. Movie nights. Pool parties. Christmas traditions. Happy tears. Sad tears. Angry words. Forgiving hugs. Silly hats. Goofy thoughts. Profound questions. Spiritual growth. My family. My life. My world. This house was where Home happened for me.
And now it was gone.
While my parents were thrilled to be alive, I mourned. I mourned what life used to be like, because now nothing was the same. I tried to deal with the changes, but looking back I think that instead of going with the flow, I bottled a lot of emotions. I hid my hurts from everyone, including myself, because I didn’t understand how to move forward when I so longed for what was behind. I watched God move mightily, though, and prove His faithfulness again and again in the life of my family.
The community embraced them. Mom, Dad and Clay never went lacking for anything. They had a place to live thanks to one of their dear friends. They received bags and boxes of clothes. The monetary support they were blessed with blew me away. And they took one step at a time and rebuilt their lives. God faithfully supplied everything and has brought them out on the other side having a greater awareness of His sovereign presence in their life.
And I’m happy to say that ten years later my family has created Home again. Transitions were rocky for a while, Christmases were hard without our boxes of personalized ornaments and treasures, and looking for things that we used to have doesn’t happen as often as it used to. We had a lot of pictures that survived and family supplemented where they could, so now we have complete albums again thanks to mom putting them together. No, we don’t have our old house anymore. No, we don’t do things like we used to. But I’m thankful, oh so thankful we are all here to make new memories and traditions. We may have lost my childhood house, but we didn’t lose our HOME.