December 9th, 2016 we came home to a bunch of flashing lights and firemen in our house. An electrical fire had taken most everything we owned from us while we were out with friends. Shock is a funny thing, everything that night is a blur but certain things stand out. My husband burying his beloved pet. The way the heap of rubble (our charred belongings and art and keepsakes) in our backyard steamed. A fireman telling us "Happiness isn't in the things. It's in the love you guys have. BOOM." and making us giggle. Lots of hugs. Realizing that I lost everything I had ever created in one fell unexpected swoop. How cold it was. Saying "I am so glad you're okay" to each other a hundred, maybe a thousand, times. Shock at finding my camera bag and it was okay, like WHAT. The way our people truly showed up for us. That stomach-drop feeling over the next few weeks as we realized forgotten things that we lost. This process has been heartbreaking and heart warming all at once. Which is overwhelming at best. And oh, so humbling.
I learned what matters to me so fast. My husband. A few books, our artwork, our blankets and things that were handmade for us. My letters and our travel photos. Now I know, like truly know, what matters to me. What to hold on to. What a crazy way to learn about letting go of things.
In that weekend alone, in two days, we were shown more support and love than I think either of us can comprehend (STILL). Our GoFundMe reached fulfillment and then DOUBLED and I am still more in shock about that than I am about the house fire. People we have never met just donating their money to us. Friends and strangers gifting us artwork to restart our collection. Sweet unfamiliar faces with bags of clothing. The way that people had our backs and really felt our pain is something I will be processing and learning how to pay forward for years. And lots of them were strangers- the most gracious, kind strangers. I feel so inspired to be the type of people we have been shown. I want to be a gracious stranger.
I do know this- my house was one way that I took care of people. I wanted them to come in and feel loved and warm and taken care of. And I know that all of these people giving us all of these things and support is just to replenish us. To replenish our taking-care-of abilities. I cannot wait to love on everyone who steps through our new door. And everyone I hear of that needs support.
I'm not posting this to make you feel bad for us, or to gather any more "I'm sorry"s. I'm posting this because I have to acknowledge it to move on from it. I am ready to post the new work I am making for 2017 and I felt weird doing that without acknowledging this absolutely life-changing and work-changing thing. I am so ready to move forward. This has been the most twisted, heartbreaking, insightful, beautiful gift.