A little over six months ago I began writing a blog about my house fire and all its consequences. On top of that, my son had been suffering from depression and was living at home again after three semesters of college. My daughter would soon be home after her freshman year of college and we’d all be living in a rental house for the summer along with our two dogs. I thought blogging would be a good way to document the process of rebuilding all that a fire takes away. Maybe it would be an outlet for all the stress I was experiencing, too. It has been a challenging time in my life, to say the least.
I didn’t start out with a specific plan or structure. Every time I visited the house I took lots of photos and they often became the focal point of my writing for the day. I made it my goal to include at least one photo with each post. Much as I love reading, I like it even more with pictures (probably the reason I’m such a magazine junkie). My blog site, wordpress, informs me that I have uploaded a total of 128 photos this year, so I guess I met that goal. More importantly, those photos are reminders of everything we went through and how far we’ve come since the May fire. It’s easy to look at my beautiful, rebuilt house and forget what it looked like just a few months ago. The photos keep the memory real.
A virgin blogger, I got excited about the reports of how many people were reading my posts. I picked up 27 subscribers, mostly friends but some acquaintances and even a few people unknown to me. I have readers from six continents, the majority from North America, of course, and then Europe, but I’ve got a few from South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia, too. At the end of the year, wordpress sends its bloggers a summary of their blogging year with some interesting stats. I’ve had over 3700 views (not including subscribers) of my 81 posts. They tried to make that number more real by comparing it to the amount of people a NYC subway train can hold (1200). “If it [my blog] were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.” I doubt their data comes from rush hour because I’m thinking 2 trips of commuters crowded together on a subway train would probably do it. Next time I visit my sister in NYC and ride the subway, Ill be sure to think of this odd comparison.
More interesting to me are the stats revealing which posts have been read the most. My most viewed post was also one of the most difficult to write: “A Parent’s Worst Nightmare.” I wrote it on the day a friend buried her 22-year-old son. He had suffered from depression much more than my own son and had taken his own life, and any parent who has a child with depression fears this. My second most popular post was one I wrote with the survivors of the Bastrop fires in mind: “The Fire is Out, Now What?” Drought and exceedingly high temperatures fed the fires last summer here in central Texas. I was already a few months post-fire, so I had a few tips to share with those just starting the post-fire recovery. Quite a few people read “Everybody Has a Fire Story” and some added their own experiences. Coming in at #4 was my post on health care: “How much is health worth?” The costs for just a few days of hospitalization for my son amounted to more than $32,000. Without the health care reforms, I would not have been able to keep him on my insurance when he took a break from college. I don’t even want to think of the alternative scenario.
I’m halfway through my journey now. I’m planning to write until the first anniversary of the fire, though my focus can now begin to shift from the fire and rebuilding to selling and finding a new empty-nester home. My house was supposed to go on the market in May just 2 days after the fire and despite the beauty of my renovated post-fire house, I still plan to go forward with my original plans. The fire chapter is mostly over (though the paperwork continues). I’m more than ready for the next chapter!