Remember my friend Tina who lost everything in a wildfire? Here’s my column about her in the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle. (Plus, those of you who have been following this story will enjoy these wedding pictures. Isn’t she gorgeous?!)
Always scanning the Internet for news. Always waiting for friends and family to check in on Facebook to say that they’ve made it through the latest tornado or storm.
Her family had lost everything. All that was left was a twisted piece of metal that had once been their home.
Their 80 acres of beautiful trees once sheltered squirrels and bobcats, birds and deer. But in a flash, nothing was left but charred tree trunks and the ashes that fell like snow after the fire licked up the leaves and the underbrush.
They had little warning and no insurance. She left with the flip-flops on her feet, some family pictures and her grandma’s treasured ring.
The fire took the rest. The kitchen table. The senior yearbook. The shampoo. The security of knowing where she would sleep at night.
Still, even though I could hear the smoke fresh and heavy in her lungs, she was grateful. And she was convinced that somehow this was a blessing – that their lives had been saved for a reason and for a purpose.
Sure enough, as the hours ticked by more and more pieces of her puzzle came together. A relative offered a rent house he had been renovating. A friend opened her closet and pulled out nearly new towels. Strangers delivered an antique bedroom set, clothes and gift cards.
Just a week after she’d felt the heat of the flames I heard her say, I have everything I need. From nothing to everything in seven short days.
I’ll try to remember that the next time the tears fall and my throat tightens with stress, the next time I’m feeling scared and unsure. If she can recover from a wildfire in seven days, surely my argument with my husband will be better by morning. Surely I’ll find a way to get the house cleaned in time for a party. Surely I’ll meet my deadline at work. Surely God – and his gracious people – will walk along side of me, too.