When I was initially contacted about an interview for last Sunday's article, I ignored it. I didn't understand why the follow-up now and didn't want to talk about the struggles we continue to have. I also recognized that the city is tired of hearing about it.
But when I got the call last Thursday, I decided to talk, initially off the record, simply because I needed someone to listen. It seems that there are a lot of people who want to hear your story in the beginning... but nine months later, it can be a rather lonely place. I didn't want to talk on the record about how I struggle to find safety, that there are days I'm not sure I can leave my house because I am worried that something could happen to me while I'm out or happen to the house. We had a one in a million wildfire happen to us, and it makes other one in a million events seem so much more likely. I want to tell the story that the city wants to hear- that nine months later, we are home, we love our new house, that even though something tragic happened, we are better for it, it's an opportunity. And I hope that one day I can tell that story. But that day isn't today, and I believe in being honest and true to my feelings.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe I should share those thoughts publicly. The article was going to run anyway. We have been given an opportunity to be a voice. There are approximately 117 million house fires each year. And most of those people don't lose their homes in such a public manner. They don't have an entire community rallying behind them, they aren't asked their opinion on what could have been handled better, they aren't invited to lunch with the mayor. But I am sure that at least some of them go through the roller coaster of emotions that we have endured. It is likely that you will know someone else in your lifetime who loses a house to a fire. By speaking out about the difficulty we are having in settling into our new home, our new normal, I hope that it allows others who have lost their homes to realize they aren't alone. I hope that family and friends of those people realize that in the months after the fire, they are needed just as much as they were in the first few days. I hope it shows that picking up the pieces isn't just about sorting through the ash and remnants of a past, but rather it's about the emotional housekeeping, the continual checking in, helping on the days when things seem overwhelming, taking them up on their offers to get coffee or lunch and listening.
We have heard a lot of people ask why the Statesman keeps revisiting this topic in the last couple of days. I've even heard it referred to as a "victim article." I think that such feelings are the reason we stay in our house. Everyone is sick of hearing about the fire. But the fire is my reality. I don't get to take a break from it. I don't get to be sick of hearing about it. It's my life. And every time I walk through the front door, I am reminded of that.