We returned home from our trip on Friday afternoon - rested but glad to arrive home. I was coming down with a bit of a cold and I felt I needed to rest and drink a lot of fluids so I could try to stave off any further illness. My sweetheart parked our home-away-from-home next to our driveway where it always sits between trips out and about. Once the trailer was parked and secured I went out and took a few things out - only things that were very important or things needed for the evening or the next morning. I planned to return the next day, Saturday, to bring in the things that don't stay in the trailer all the time - all of our clothing and the food items that were added for our trip to the coast. I will be forever grateful that I took the time and the energy to retrieve what I did - my camera bag, my laptop, my devotional bag with my Bible and devotional books, my housecoat and a small jewelry bag that I had added for the days away. I also brought in a darling antique mirror I had purchased at the coast so I could enjoy it. I had a pretty rough night with breathing and coughing and a very sore throat so the next morning I chose to sit in my comfy chair, with my feet up, and watch Hallmark movies through the day while I snoozed, coughed, sniffled and drank gallons of water. Sometime in the afternoon I told my sweetheart I didn't feel well enough to go to the trailer to remove the clothing and the food items - I would do it Sunday afternoon. Now, that shouldn't have been a problem - but it became a VERY major problem! It's a decision that I would redo if I could, but I will never be able to go back.
We went to bed at a normal time that Saturday night. I hoped to be able to sleep so I took two Benedryl in hopes that I would be able to breathe and sleep at the same time. It seemed to work and we were sound asleep when, just before midnight, my sweetheart heard the doorbell ring. In my deep sleep I had not heard anything! He quickly stepped into his jeans and went to the door. There was no one there so he stepped out on the porch to see if someone was nearby. He saw no one but what he did see stirred both of us into immediate action. Our home-away-from-home was on fire! A young man who had been driving by saw the fire, called nine-one-one, rang our bell to wake us and ran to our neighbor's home to wake them. My sweetheart's 'new' pickup was parked very close to the flaming inferno of our trailer so he quickly ran to move it. By the time he moved it away from danger it had already sustained fire damage. If he had hesitated to move the truck for more than a few minutes longer it would have been a total loss.
When my sweetheart alerted me of the fire and told me to get dressed and get out I quickly dressed with no idea if the house was or would soon be on fire. In my rush I grabbed my shoes and my purse and we got my little dog out. It seemed surreal as I stood and watched the flames that rose high above the roof of our home. I ran around the sidewalk and street barefooted as I watched the firemen work on the fire. Then I realized that I was clutching my shoes! so I finally put them on. Our neighbors from all around were outside watching the fire, standing with us and supporting us. The young man who saw the fire and acted quickly to make sure we were safe stood with me while my sweetheart spoke with the fire chief. My sweetheart had assured me that our home was not involved and that brought immense relief in the middle of the tragedy. The fire crew worked for a long time to be sure that the fire was completely out and that everything in harm's way was safe. We were assured that the fire was not caused by the propane system in the trailer. The firemen said it acted like an electrical fire and we believe they are right, but there are no answers. Because there was no suspicion of arson, and because we owned it outright with no other 'interested parties' involved, there will be no investigation to find the cause. We have surmised and suspected and tried to find a reason in our minds for the fire. Still, there are no answers.
Our home-away-from-home was a total loss. Much of it was destroyed beyond recognition. It is a burned and charred mess of what was once beautiful. Most of the floor of what remains is still stable and we have been able to go inside and open burned or charred cabinets to see if anything could be retrieved. Very little was salvageable. What didn't burn was destroyed or severely damaged by the extreme heat, thick black smoke and the water used to extinguish the fire. We have spent many hours looking and picking through the rubble to see if something remains. I've stood and sobbed as I looked at the disfigured, charred remains. I've stood in disbelief inside of the blackness of what still stands with the horrible smell that a structure fire leaves behind. At first it was very hard to face but as days have gone by I've been able to remember the joy we had there. Those memories will always be sweet. And I have peace because I know that God was watching over us and that we will go on from here.
We are working through the insurance process with two insurance companies - one for the pickup and one for the trailer. The people at both companies have been so kind and compassionate. The pickup is at a local repair shop that has been owned by the same family for many years. We have been so pleased with the way they have responded to us. The insurance company that is handling the loss of the trailer needs lists of all of the personal and household items that were destroyed. The lists must include replacement cost for each item listed so there is a lot of research involved. We were asked for any photos we have of the interior and the things we lost. As we've searched through the rubble we have photographed many things that were destroyed. Some things were totally consumed or burned beyond recognition. Fortunately, it's not hard to remember what was in every cupboard and closet and storage bay. It's a daunting task but we will soon be finished and will be able to submit the final required paperwork for review and settlement.
Our yard all around the trailer is singed and ugly from the destruction that fire, extreme heat and thick, black smoke brings. The grass is burned and black. We're fairly sure we've lost all of the roses in my little rose garden. They are brown and dry and 'crisp'. One small tree will come out. Soon the remains of the trailer will be taken away and we will begin to deal with the damage to the yard. We had planned to make changes to that part of our yard someday in the future. The time for that is now and we can visualize that one day it will be a beautiful part of our property once again. Forever changed, but beautiful.
We've been asked if we are afraid to have another RV. Won't we be afraid something like this will happen again? No, we are not afraid. God has given us such incredible peace and we are beginning to look to the future and dream again. Something like this puts everything into perspective. We are SO grateful that we were safe. We treasure what's really important. It's not the stuff! It's life and each other and those who are dear to our hearts. We have good neighbors and friends who have been there through the last days to go the extra mile to care for us. There will be another home-away-from-home and there are more adventures on the road ahead. And as the sign that hangs in the entry way of our son and daughter-in-law's home reminded me, there is always, always, always, SOMETHING to be thankful for!