And on the 89th day the powers that be said ‘Let the rebuilding begin.’ In this case, ‘the powers that be’ are all the city inspectors that have to sign off on electricity, gas, and plumbing. The house has been torn apart and gutted, all new insulation tucked into the ceilings and walls, wiring and pipes and shiny new air ducts repaired or installed, and finally, finally, we can begin rebuilding. Huge stacks of sheet rock have been delivered to the house. Never was I so happy to see something so dull.
When I first walked into the house this week, I gagged on all the dust in the air. Dry wall really is dry and dusty. It doesn’t look very impressive – flat and plain – but looking around at the few ceilings and walls, I could see its potential. Some sealing, texture, and paint and voilà – nice new rooms in a house! I feel like I have turned the corner in this journey I’ve been on. Has it really been just three months since the fire? It feels much, much longer.
And yet, sometimes I lose track of time completely. The ten weeks my daughter was home seem to have flown by. I still catch myself wanting to go to a bookshelf and get a book for something only to remember, oops – wrong house. Shouldn’t I be used to the rental house by now? Why do I still reach for the light switch on the wrong side of the bathroom? Or kitchen? Or study? The mind holds on to those frequent repetitive actions the most, no matter how trivial. I wonder if I’ll make the same mistakes when I return to the house.
Slowly I turn my focus to rebuilding my home. Not the physical structure of the house; I’m not a handywoman nor do I have any desire to be, but the house will need some furniture and a multitude of other things. I remember this once again when I buy a muffin mix only to have the kids ask me if we have a muffin tin. Uh, no, I’ll put it on the list. I’ve begun to store the rental kitchen ‘package’ separately, bit by bit, in order to see what I still need in the way of basic kitchen supplies. Do we have any Q-tips, my son asks? Nope, I say as I add it to the list. It’s the little things you forget about or rather, you take for granted that you have.
We’ve all gone through a lot these past three months: fire, ER, burn unit, recovery, insurance and contractor issues, depression, stress, and decision after decision. My daughter came home for the summer and is happy to head back to college. My son has taken the first steps back to college and is eager to get out on his own again. And me? I’m hanging in there. I’ve had to deal with many, many issues around the fire and rebuilding, and I’ve learned a lot in the process. It hasn’t been easy, that’s for sure, but I’m starting to see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I won’t say that I’m a better person for going through this – too much stress and anxiety – but I may be a bit wiser and stronger. And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?