Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sharing Happiness: Celebrate Community Blog Hop

Basement, after the fire, December 2010

I'm really not very good at following directions. It's not that I'm deliberately being a rebel, it's just that I can be careless in reading directions and make assumptions about what I'm supposed to be doing and end up being wrong. Ah well.

Turns out I did the wrong prompt for Pavarti K Tyler's Celebrate Community Blog Hop and posted my family/community photo a day early, instead of writing about what community means to me.

Since we were on the road Saturday, I didn't get to write a post, and today's is about Sharing Happiness.  I think I'll smash both prompts together and talk about how my community gathered together to help us when we needed it the most.

In December of 2010, my family and I were woken up by our smoke detectors blaring. It was 5 am on a very cold winter's day and we fled our burning home in bare feet and pajamas.

Thankfully, we all got out safely, including our dog, who was smart enough to be standing by the door, whimpering to get away from the noise and smoke.

Even while the firefighters were doing their job, our neighbors rallied around us, taking us in, keeping us warm, fed, and sane in those first few hours of that frightening day.

I wrote an op/ed for our local newspaper on how our community sustained us that day, and in the days and weeks to follow. I won't repeat the column here, but here's the link, if you'd like to read it.

What I will say is that I don't know how I would have made it through that time without the kindness and support, and yes, the laughter of our community. I remember that first evening, when it sunk in on us that we weren't going to be able to return home (it was almost a year before our house was liveable again), and we sat around our neighbor's dining room table laughing and joking. I'd never needed laughter as much as in that moment, with a boarded up and burned house next door.

One moment I distinctly remember, was one of the firefighters handing me my laptop. It had been open and running that morning, doing its autobackup. When the firefighters smashed all the windows on the first floor to ventilate the fire, glass ended up all over my desk. All over my laptop keyboard. Glass that the firefighter had carefully closed between the keyboard and screen. I remember my husband and neighbors mock-chiding me, saying there were simpler ways of getting a new computer if I wasn't happy with my old one.

We laughed to the point of painful bellies and tears.

A needed laugh.

A clensing laugh.

What we shared at that moment, was the realization that being able to laugh in the face of adversity was an enormous gift and I will always be grateful to the friends, neighbors, and family who were able to share in our (yes) good fortune. For losing material possessions ended up being only a temporary inconvenience; gaining an understanding of our blessings, is as they say, priceless. 


  1. What a wonderful community. Sometimes misfortune can bring people together in a way that the good times just can't. Thanks for sharing this week. It's been a wonderful way to get to know you and I have to say, I really do feel like you're a real friend now, not just an author whose book I liked :)

    1. Right back at you, Pav! Thank you for gathering me into your community.