Starting over after the fire…

Our patio and dining room ablaze
Our patio and dining room ablaze (photo courtesy

Last Tuesday a fire that started in the condo on the lower floor of our building burned the whole building down.  All of the families in that building lost everything– and that includes us.

It’s been almost a week and it still seems very surreal to me.  A fire is something that happens on TV or in a movie.  Or maybe to OTHER people, not someone you know… definitely not to YOU.  It’s the oddest thing to logically know that everything you own is basically on you when your emotions still think of the stuff you have “at home.”  Except, we have to keep reminding ourselves, there is no “at home” anymore.

Fortunately, none of the people in the building were hurt.  My husband is a hero in our neighborhood because he got everyone out of the building on both sides.

Our floor engulfed in flames
Our floor of the building engulfed in flames (courtesy Reporter Newspapers)

I’m writing this in my office at work and to be honest, I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.  We have been very blessed to have a lot of support from our children’s school community, from our family and friends, from virtual strangers…  If anyone ever tries to tell you there aren’t good hearts in the world anymore, ignore them… I can tell you from direct experience that there are amazingly wonderful, kind-hearted people in the world…

The hardest part of losing everything for me is feeling bad about the things that people gave me that were lost.  I woke up in the middle of the night on Wednesday and cried because I remembered that my vintage Singer sewing machine was gone.

My lovely 1964 Singer Sewing Machine
My lovely 1964 Singer Sewing Machine

It was a gift from a freecycler in our area, something she loved that she shared with me because she thought I’d put it to good use.  I feel bad about the antique chinese silk paintings and the chinese cabinet that were gifts from my mom… about the earrings my best friend gave me… and, of course, I am terribly sad about the pictures of my kids and my family.  Those are the things that for me were irreplaceable.

But– life goes on.  Caitlin, my daughter, came home with a new certificate on Friday, their first day back to school after the fire.  Her class won the volley ball championship for 5th grade.  Today, at work, a lovely friend gave me several pairs of earrings and a necklace.  I have several emails from friends who want to donate furniture and home goods to us… and each of those things will be meaningful to me… and to us as a family… because they are tangible evidence of how others reached out to give us our life back…

Life–and decorating– will go on.  We just put in an application for a new place this morning, so keep your fingers crossed for us that our application is approved and we can move in this weekend.  Saturday is my birthday and it would be wonderful to celebrate by moving into our new home.

In the meanwhile, tomorrow I’ll post the reveal of my copycat shelves… might not have the shelves anymore, but I can still share pictures with you.  I also have a new “In the Trenches” interview for Wednesday and potentially a giveaway to launch on Friday.

’til next time, happy budget decorating!

xoxo Shauntelle



9 thoughts on “Starting over after the fire…

  1. Tonia says:

    I am so sorry to hear about the fire and your loss, but I’m glad that you and the family are ok Things can be replaced. My prayers are with you and the family. If there is anything that I can do all the way from Texas, please let me know.

  2. Mary Lewis says:

    There is MUCH good in the world! 😀 So sorry you are going through this, but so happy you have help and support to get you through it!

    Much love from our family to yours. 🙂


  3. Missy says:

    I am one of the ‘ virtual strangers’ who was touched by your story, and reached out to my friends and family to help. Your family has been in my thoughts and prayers and it’s wonderful to hear that you and your family are finding ways to move forward, and I hope that your birthday wish comes true. Seeing your blog for the first time, I know without a doubt that no matter where you will live next, you will make it a warm and inviting and a place where all of you can find home again. Much love to you and your family!

  4. b. says:

    Oh, Shauntelle, I am so sorry. Please accept a virtual hug from one of your readers, and all my good wishes as you and your family move forward.

    Four years ago my apartment endured a major flood. The damage wasn’t as extensive as at your condo, but I imagine the aftermath must be somewhat similar. I say this only to reassure you that whatever reactions you’re all having–gratitude, anger, sorrow, exhaustion, or WHATEVER–it’s all normal. When we lose a home, we grieve, just as we do when we lose a person dear to us. Be patient with yourselves and know that time will be the biggest help of all.

    I’m so glad you have your family safe with you. Be well

  5. Amanda says:

    I am so glad everyone is safe – that is the most important thing. I think things like this hit you in waves and finally those waves will be so far out to sea that it will become a distant memory. Remember that even though it is hard now things will get better and better – Hugs

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