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April 20, 2022

All-inclusive degree: The School of Life

Photo by Mariana Montrazi on Pexels.

It’s been exactly one year; almost to the minute. At 1:00pm in 2020, I made my first ever (and hopefully last) 911 call. What I thought to be an external event, turned into something completely unexpected. Life turned upside down and into flames, literally. Before I knew it, a firetruck pulled up and the house was filled with fireman pulling hoses from top to bottom and exploring every crevice of the house while a crowd of mostly unknown people gathered around the block we lived on. My lungs pained with smoke and fumes for over a week and my body was so high on adrenaline that it didn’t take a hard nosedive until later that evening. It was completely surreal and difficult to process. One moment I was working at the kitchen table, the next I walked back into the house of smoke-filled shambles; recognizable, but different. As if seeing it for the first time through someone else’s eyes and in disbelief. We grabbed the necessities; clothes for a couple days and a toothbrush. I didn’t know the next steps merely that we could not sleep there that night. Instead we all camped out in my in-laws living room. I did hardly sleep that night; reliving the moments of the day’s event amongst at least a half dozen ticking clocks going of every hour, but at different times.

Everyone tells you to have an escape plan; how and where to leave the house in an emergency, but nobody gives you a plan for what happens after you find yourself outside. Now what? People gather to assist with your basic needs: food and shelter, but nobody provides any type of outline or plan on what to do next. As a matter of fact, they look for YOU to have this plan exactly laid out. But you don’t; not even close. You are trying to figure this out yourself as you go from moment to moment, from call to call and hope to keep your cool along the way.

We lost a lot that day, but at the same time gained something new: perspective. It’s one thing to do spring cleaning, a yard sale, a moving sale, a donation of things outgrown, but having to discard items due to an external force is completely different. At times you find yourself not caring at all, then indecisive, and at other times extremely sad. We were fortunate enough to have wonderful people taking us in for over 3 months! We got to experience different sides of each other; the things you don’t often see because most of the time people only show you what they want you to see. It was eye-opening, revealing, stressful, shameful, inconvenient, frustrating, saddening, happy, and overall a definite learning experience all around. Have you ever felt burdensome to others? I felt like this for over 3 months and it took everything inside me to not fall apart inside. Family and friends, neighbors, and colleagues were extremely kind and helpful, but that didn’t take away the feeling of loss, being an inconvenience or third-wheel.

Looking back, I gained a lot of insight – from companies, and people in general. I appreciate this NOW. One year. It is not the kind of anniversary you celebrate, but rather a day to reflect on all the positive things that unveiled themselves throughout the rebuilt.

Some things returned to previous settings and circumstances, but the growth that occurred internally is everlasting. The impression people made in that time will be stamped in my mind forever. The saying of “true friends/family are beside you in your darkest hour” is highly accurate. Sadly, it also reveals the true character of others and THAT can never be erased.

So, today I reflect on the past 12 months and I am thankful for everyone who not only came to the rescue, but stayed. One year and many memories to cherish; good and bad. In the end, this is The School of Life – the only degree of infinite wisdom and growth that we keep earning until our last breath. And if we are lucky enough, we get to be teachers ourselves at certain stages and add to the book of acuity for others to take advantage of our missteps and shortcoming; unless they only learn by doing.

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