Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place...

The last couple of days have been rough. Excruciating, actually. It is impossible to accurately describe in words the extent of the damage to our home. I would say we were naive initially, in assuming that most of our belongings would be salvageable. As we begin the process of inventorying everything, we are hearing the words "total loss" again and again. 

Most of our furniture will have to be replaced, as well as mattresses, everything in the bathrooms, most of our kitchen items and lots of toys and other odds and ends.  That's to say nothing of the attic items, which we inventoried ourselves this morning. That was hard. So little, so very, very little was salveagable. 
This was the contents of our attic - in the middle are the items that we can definitely tell are destroyed and which will need to be formally inventoried. To the left are debris, roof parts, and items we couldn't determine what they were since they were burned so badly. Beyond this (and not in the picture) were the 3 or so boxes of things we're asking them to attempt to salvage if possible, which include my wedding dress, completely melted into the garmet bag. 

The loss is staggering. We won't know the extent of the loss until the final inventory is done, but it's significant. 

And the house. Oh, our house. The sweet little house that has taught our babies to walk, and rung with the echoes of their laughter and screams. The house where Sierra learned to read and Bodie learned to crawl. Their bathroom with monkeys and sweet, happy scents and memories of their splashing and laughing. The walls where Dusk has painstakingly painted every square inch. The kitchen where I have spent hours baking birthday cakes and classroom treats. The living room where Bodie and his friends ripped open his birthday presents just 2 weeks ago. All a total loss. Maybe not today, but in the coming weeks. 

We have been told the entire house will have to be gutted. It looks like a war zone. Ceilings are ripped open throughout the house, walls are punched through, both bedrooms and the office are covered with ash and chunks of ceiling. The office isn't even safe to go into at this point. 
(this is the office; you can see the ceiling is completely gone.)

The kitchen cabinets may be salvageable, but the countertops will be lost and the walls will have to come down. How far we don't know - it depends on the extent of the fire. 

The floors throughout the house are covered in a mixture of mud and ash and will all have to be replaced. The living room, which initially looked ok, was covered in huge sheets of ceiling by late Monday night. It is impossible to explain what it's like to stand in the home you have loved and built your family within, and watch it literally coming down around you. 
What's left of the kids' bathroom. 


We haven't let the kids into the house. We don't want them to remember their house this way. Heck, Dusk and I don't want to remember our house this way. It's awful. 

Like I said, this week has been tough. We have cried many tears over our losses.

And yet, even so, in the midst of such sadness, we have felt such grace, such miracles that can only be the hand of God.

Many have asked how the fire started. 

It started at 9:30pm or so on Saturday night. Dusk was working in the back and I was working in the kitchen. We had put the kids to bed, and Sierra had gone right to sleep, but Bodie was refusing to. He was feeling squirrely and had been in and out of bed every 10 minutes for over an hour. He was insisting on keeping their bedroom door open, which we don't usually do. I finally gave up and told him he could sleep in our bed.

As I was lying him down, I smelled something burning. I didn't think much of it, since it honestly smelled like our dishwasher smells when plastic utensils get caught where they shouldn't be. But I walked into the kids' room and realized it was coming from their bathroom, which is fully enclosed in their bedroom. I saw sparks coming out of their fan in their bathroom (it was a light/fan vent/heater combo, but only the fan was on).

I turned it off and realized the sparks were still coming and ran outside to get Dusk. By the time we got back in (10 seconds?), flames were coming out of the fan. He yelled for me to grab the garden hose and by the time I got it to him, he realized it wasn't putting it out and we were in trouble. He told me to call 911. By that time, the kids' bedroom was filled with smoke. I did, and then grabbed the kids, my purse, my laptop and Bodie's meds (I didn't know what was about to go down and didn't want to scramble to get Bodie's meds in the morning) and got out of the house. I told the kids to grab their favorite stuffed animals on the way out and come. I didn't realize until we got out of the house that they hadn't grabbed them. 

We got out of the house as the fire trucks were arriving. Thank God for the kindness of our neighbors and friends who took the kids, and helped Dusk and I as we helplessly stood by and watched our house engulfed in flames. The whole experience was surreal, to put it mildly. 

But even so, so many blessings.

Thank God the fire happened on Saturday night, when I was home, and not 2 nights later, when I was supposed to be at a friend's and Dusk may have been out in the back working as the kids' slept, and they may have slept through the fire before Dusk knew what was going on. Dusk and I cannot even allow ourselves to think of how much worse this could have been, how the unthinkable could have happened. How close we came.

Thank God Bodie was refusing to go to bed and insisting on leaving their bedroom door open. Otherwise, who knows how long it would have been before I would have smelled the burning. But because he was up and insisting on his door being open, I smelled it right when the fire started. That fire spread so fast that truly, every second counted. We're so grateful Bodie insisted on having that door open.

Thank God we were not hurt. Not even a little bit.

Thank God Dusk was able to grab  expensive equipment he had in the attic on his way out of the house. Thank God he had the wherewithal to grab equipment he was holding for clients.

Thank God for the kindness of the incredible LAFD firefighters, who, once they had the fire under control, asked me what specifically we needed out of the house. And who went into the kids room, and came back with exactly what I had asked for - Sierra's tigger and her American Girl doll, and Bodie's Momo monkey and Joshie Doll. And clothes for the kids, and jackets and shoes for Dusk and I, who were literally wandering the streets in our wet socks.

Thank God the kids' most prized possessions, and all of their clothes, survived the fire completely unscathed. There's no explanation for it, to be honest. Tigger and Sierra's doll were sitting on her bed, in a bedroom filled with smoke. And yet, not even a hint of smoke on them. Same with Bodie's special possessions. I know they're just toys, but even so, they're their special things, their comfort items. This is so hard for the kids. Heck, it's hard on Dusk and I, but we have a lifetime of experiences to deal with this - we know what box to put it in. Our kids have 4 and almost 7 years of lifetime experiences. They don't know what to do with this. So we are so grateful that they have their comfort items to help them through.

Thank God for amazing friends, like Bill, who was by Dusk's side the night of the fire, and at our house early the morning after the fire, helping Dusk move our refrigerators to avoid defrosting, bring coffee and breakfast, and just plain being there for Dusk. And the Risso's, who took our kids in and loved on them the night of the fire, opened their doors to us, and took Bodie again Monday so that I could be at the property with Dusk. And Denise, our sweet neighbor who took load after load of laundry from us and has been endlessly washing for us to get smoke out of everything she can. And Faith, who took both kids all day Sunday - and spent all day with me today, helping inventory our entire attic (no easy task), and sort through clothes, and bring us all kinds of food - and just love on me.

Thank God for schedules aligning just perfectly so that Johnny was in town, Jeff hadn't left town yet and John was available, because these 3 guys saved us in a million different ways the past few days. Oh.my.goodness. I can never thank them enough for what they did for us. Between Johnny sleeping overnight on the property to keep his eye on the property, to Jeff helping me search around the debris and ash in the kids' bedroom to find Bodie's missing cleat, to all three of them helping Dusk in the wee hours of the morning finish a client's mix, these guys are beyond amazing. 

Dusk and Jeff finishing a mix together, 2 days after the house burned down. 

Thank God our attic burned and not our whole house. We could SO easily have lost EVERYTHING. And we did lose a lot. But yet, so so so much was salvaged. Truthfully, most of what we lost in the attic was stored stuff we should have pared down long ago. Stuff we thought we needed, but not really. 

Thank God we have amazing insurance, who are already on the ball, encouraging us to find short-term housing and a home rental for the longer term. An insurance company who has already gotten the ball rolling on restoration and is working so compassionately with us to help us navigate this incredibly difficult path. 

So, this journey is tough. It's awful actually. And it's been filled with lots of tough moments. Lots of tears. But even so, we are beyond grateful for God's hand on our family. We have been spared so, so much.

So, at the end of the day, our hearts are full and so very grateful.

Even in the darkness, we feel his light.

So completely. 


  1. There are no words to express my feelings. I am so very sorry this happened to you.
    You are all here and that is all that matters.
    Bodie is our little hero again. :)

  2. What an incredible story! I'm so glad nobody was hurt. It's amazing to me how our lives can change literally in a heartbeat.