Onward and Upward: One Year After Our Family's House FireSerge Bielanko
A year ago today (January 4th), my wife and my two little kids and me, along with our two dogs, were all uprooted by a fire that destroyed a good portion of a home that we had only moved into six months prior.
It really sucked because it was a house we had quickly come to love too.
Of course, it also sucked for a lot of other reasons as well.
However, I think that it taught me a lot of stuff that is worth recognizing, things like the spider-web string that each of us hangs by over the boiling cauldron of big trouble.
Being knocked down but not out by a fire allowed me to understand, a bit better, that so many of the material things that we really truly believe mean so much to us are just things in the end. It seems so cliche to say that, believe me I know, but it’s truer than hell.
Even so-called precious heirloom crap that had been passed on to me, that I had been entrusted to guide toward the next generation, when it burnt up like a snowflake on a hot car hood I missed it and mourned it for about three or four goofy seconds and then punched myself in the face for being so vain.
My kids were alive, they were okay. My wife and me too. And the dogs didn’t even realize what the hell had happened, they just carried on like dogs tend to do, with grace and extreme hunger.
But I have to tell you something else; I just have this burning desire (pun intended) to force feed you, a person who has bothered to stop by and loan me a few minutes of your valuable time, the most important thing that I took away from all this “life interrupted” chaos.
You see, in the hours immediately following our bad fortune a bunch of people from all over the country, from all over the world even, began sending their well-wishes and prayers and offering to help however they could. People sent us money and clothes and gave us food and gift cards toys and children’s books (my three year-old daughter, Violet, had lost every possession she owned) and hand-written letters and cards, each of which instantly replaced the other material things I’d lost.
We were left stunned. As a family we were beyond touched and thankful. I wanted to reach out and give a big old bear hug to all of these people, some friends of ours we hadn’t even seen in a long time, along with many many others who were folks we had never ever met before. But life doesn’t always let us dole out as many bear hugs as we should, here I am; here we are.
This post is hardly anything, I know that, but it’s the only way I can come up with on this exact morning just a few hours away from the one-year anniversary of the exact moment our lives were rattled pretty bad.
So, thank you.
If you were one of the ones who took the time to send a long a thought or a wish or an aid, or a pair of girl’s pants sized 3T, or a lightly used copy of Where the Wild Things Are, or a gift card with just a few dollars on it that you had been keeping in your wallet and was all that you could offer but you did it selflessly, like a damn angel from on high would do, I just want you to know that I love you.
Seriously, I really do.
Your generosity of spirit and hope gave us wings when needed them most, when we were at our saddest and our most afraid.
As parents of two young children who mean the world to us, the love that came rolling in over us was the most inspiring and awesome thing I have ever, or probably will ever, experience.
So listen, if you are someone out there who sometimes wonders if an email from a stranger to someone hurting could possibly matter let met just tell you this.
It matters way more than I hope you’ll ever know.
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
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