|Dr. Martens, Philadelphia|
The fire was the worst thing I've ever gone through in my life - without a doubt. There will never be words to explain or describe the way it looked, smelled, and how it broke my heart. I don't want anyone to understand. Ever. But there are other housefire survivors out there...somewhere. For two years I have looked for support groups but found little to nothing. I even tried to start one.
Even though it was two years ago it takes a long time to replace things - while other things will be irreplaceable. There are friends who have mailed me snowglobes out of the blue. Others have bundled packages of extra crafting supplies. There was the random sewer who brought me sheers...then came back with piles of material and ribbon. Tristan's Baby Docs came from a lovely woman who heard about us on CraigsList (where another person had posted our story) and we still keep in touch. Another woman brought us fresh garlic bread - twice. I have saved every letter - every note. For those who couldn't give things they sent heartfelt words and I treasure those. I have never been so moved by the kindness of strangers, friends, and family.
|Hand delivering our letter to one of the Philadelphia Fire Departments.|
For two years I've baked imaginary brownies and scones; made fudge in a dozen different flavors and wrote letters in my head. I had business of my own to tend to. How do you say thank you to a firefighter? I don't even understand why they do what they do. I understand police officers, paramedics, doctors, nurses...but I do not understand what drives people to fight fires to save our homes...our lives...our pets...our knick-knacks...fires are scary. They are most people's worst nightmare.
Finally I just did it. A friend of mine gave me some beautiful note cards from the light installation we went to see over the summer. That took away one of my excuses: I don't have my stationary and the one pack I have is artistically Out There (Kathy Olivas - her style just doesn't match this particular situation). So as the fire-versary crept up I said, OK pen and card-of-local-appropriate-art: let's do this. I have no clue what I wrote but I poured my heart out. Thanking them for trying...even if they couldn't save my world, they still tried with all their might. I've read their message boards. True story. They fight so hard for us.
It was a Friday. The anniversary was Sunday. I took Tristan down to the fire station our truck had come from. That crew wasn't there - they'd just left. But I dropped off my letter. The men were jovial when I entered their small space. I don't think they get many visitors. Most of them cleared out after I introduced myself while two remained and talked to me as tears started flying out of my eyes. I was appalled. I never thought I'd burst. I just wanted to drop off the letter and leave. They looked like they belonged in an old-fashioned painting. The older man walked me out and then thanked me. I blinked as more tears splashed down my cheeks. People don't usually come back...we never see them again. So thank you, too, he said. Then he rested his hand on Tristan and wished us well.
When I spill my heart it can get messy, so I hope you're still with me.
Recently someone my mother-in-law knows wanted to surprise me. She is a kindred Dr Martens collector. I had so many limited edition pairs that were eaten up in the fire. She really felt for me on that one. So she arranged a little treat: I could go down to the store here in Philadelphia and pick out a pair! I felt very humbled by this kind of generosity. I always do. It's hard to be on the receiving end of help; I am constantly reminding myself how much I enjoy helping others.
I picked out a pair of Mary Jane's with hearts on the toes; black, double-buckles. They're perfect. I had a pair of red MJ's before but I hadn't seen a pair of MJ's that I loved until that day in the shop.
Anyway, she went back, got them for me and then on Monday I picked them up. It was a completely anonymous gesture of kindness. I only know her name and that she loves Docs - oh, and that she has cute writing (she left me a note right on the box).
When I found the pair I got myself a pair of socks to go with them. I only have knee-highs for the most part because I usually wear high boots. I was really excited.
|My attempt at modeling my new socks and Dr Marten Mary Janes !|
The rest of my outfit is secondhand and was under $5. My make-up I dug out of the ashes and that particular shade of lipstick I got turning in unsalvageable MAC containers to their recycle program. Rebuilding on a Dime: it's amazing how you can make it work.
|Baby Docs were discontinued but look what's back!|
|Out-take...with my toddler assistant (that is his Depeche Mode shirt that was approximately one dollar secondhand).|
Thank you, random person! I will think of your kindness every time I wear them (which will be a lot). Everything we own has a story behind it...and now I've written yours.