In Which I Am Burned Out of My House

On November 13th, at 2:30 in the morning, we ran for our lives from my home of 27 years. A tiny spark from our pellet stove caught the bark dust alongside our house on fire; it smoldered until high winds blew the burning bark dust against our basement window casing. From there, it burnt through the casing, and spread into the basement.

Our oldest daughter discovered the fire when smoke began pouring out of the heat vent in her room, where she was staying up late finishing her homework. The alarms went off, but if she hadn't run out of the house and begun slamming the front door and screaming her head off, we might not have woken up in time.

As it was, by the time the three of us made it downstairs the house was within minutes of total involvement. The fire department came in the nick of time to save the building, but not before the entire basement was charred, including the floor joists. John tells me the floor boards for the main floor are also burned. We escaped with our pajamas, our dog, one cat and no shoes. Our second cat was discovered dead in the basement last Friday. We were hoping she'd just run away.

It turns out we have good insurance. They have put us up in an extended stay hotel and have found us a rental house not far from our home. They will be gutting our house, to the studs; it is balloon frame construction, and smoke damaged the entire house severely, including much of our belongings. When all is said and done, we will have a new house inside a 130-year-old frame. It will take six months to rebuild, months we will spend in the rental house.

I don't mourn the loss of most of the things I lost. What gets me are little things: all our Christmas ornaments, including the stocking my mother made me when I was a baby; a favorite thermal knit Henley I'd embroidered; fiber, yarn and fabric I'd collected over 35 years, including handspun; a huge chunk of my craft and art reference books; and my comics collection. It's the second one I've lost in my life. I lost looms, probably my sewing machine, copies of the books I write under my pen name. My piano. My drafting table I've had since I was 15.

And my cat, Inky.

The things we miss the most are those attached to memories. Furniture, dishes, TVs--those things can be replaced. Nothing can ever replace my stocking, my handspun, the ornaments my daughters made, or my cat.

It's been less than two weeks. I'm still in shock, I think, though gradually coming out of it. We're all exhausted. But we have discovered we are rich in friends. They've come out of the woodwork, offering help, supplies, and money. Twelve years ago, when we first discovered my weird heart condition, we discovered we had no friends but my parents and our intentional brother. Four years later, when I nearly died, we had them, and my two best friends. This time, we literally cannot count the people who have come forward to support us.

We are so grateful, so, so grateful.

And yet, we mourn.

Add new comment