By Awesomoman (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By Awesomoman (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
“The most tangible of all visible mysteries – fire.”  Leigh Hunt. For early man the use of fire is considered to be a huge step in human evolution. It is said that humans learned to control fire over 400,000 years ago.  I disagree, humans have never had control of fire, fire still controls us. I agree fire has contributed to many positive aspects to our lives, warmth, cooking, renewal of nature, etc. but fire has also been a violent oppressor.

I am writing this blog with some confusion, some celebration, and a great deal of relief.   I have written many times of my love of living in Traverse City on Old Mission Peninsula. Just yesterday my husband and I commented yet again about the fabulous people we have met or are acquainted with. These are people we work with, volunteer with, live near, shop with or just pass by every now and then. I had no idea of the value of these words until Monday morning.

It is my custom to read my e-mail and facebook as I enjoy the latte my husband makes me each morning  as I slowly wake up. Last Monday was far from enjoyable as I learned of a nearby house fire. The late night fire had burned the house to the ground, destroyed the occupants vehicles, and all their belonging.  All family members and dog survived. Shaking my head I looked at the photo of the surviving family…they were not occupants of the house they were my friends. My chest tightened and jaw dropped.

A little over a year ago this family made their trip from Alaska to Traverse City, Michigan. Dad is an Aviation Survival Technician which means he with a rescue swimmer for the Coast Guard.  I know Mom through my substitute teaching. We have worked together, I have worked for her and I have worked with each of her children as I substitute in other classes. I respect this dear family.  It saddens me that they have had to experience such an event.

As with most life experiences it is not all bad…hard to believe. The saying, ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ seems to based in reality. What could the silver lining be here?  The silver lining, the community, especially Old Mission Peninsula School and its employees and families.  Immediately a Go Fund Me site was set up. Monetary contributions have been amazing. Clothing, toys, bicycles, vehicles, etc have been donated. As I visited a used clothing store the owner volunteered to put several adult outfits together for the family. The school is storing everything so the family can come as needed until they find a more formal storage area.

I have been so impressed with the random acts of kindness that seem to have had a domino effect through out this community. Individuals, whether they know this family or not, are willing to share what they have. I am most impressed however with the emotional understanding of this event. I personally have never suffered such a hardship and am learning from others how to approach such a situation. Some of the things I have come to realize:

  1. I will never truly understand what total loss is.
  2. Don’t overwhelm the family with donations…allow them to come and search through items as they feel they can.
  3. I was told that once the family works through the process of re-establishing itself they will have a unique sense of clarity. I like this idea best.
  4. It will take time for the children to realize that everything important was saved that night….right now they are just scared. Mom wrote that no family should ever have to be that scared.
  5. It is not time for me to step in….I  am eager to be helpful but I should allow things to happen naturally.
  6. There is more kindness in this world than it sometimes appears.

As I sit at the table writing I am grateful this family has and will survive, I share a community with thoughtful people, and that my loved ones are safe. These are the important aspects of life.