Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Great [Smith] Chicago Fire

Summer was so busy and unique that I never got around to sharing a lot of our adventures. I'll take my time but I plan on telling about some of our summer events over the next couple weeks.

The Fire:
It was about 3:00p.m. on a Friday, Nolan was just finishing up his afternoon nap, and I heard him stirring in his bedroom. I felt like he [read: I] could use a little longer nap, so I lay on my bed very quietly hoping that if nothing made a peep, he'd fall back asleep for a few more minutes. I grabbed a couple popsicles, my computer, and my phone, and then sat down on the bed. I looked around and realized how peaceful and beautiful this moment was, I even took a picture for instagram:
I was about half way into my first popsicle when somebody buzzed our apartment like 5 times. I was so, so, so, so irritated because of the whole hoping everything would be quiet enough for Nolan to fall back asleep thing. I was thinking, "one buzz would have been sufficient", and I walked to the intercom feeling SUPER annoyed.  I answered in my rudest voice possible,



I ran into Nolan's room, ripped him out of his crib, ran back into the front room, did a 2 second evaluation of what I should take with me, realized I was being ridiculous, grabbed my phone, and we ran out with nothing but Nolan's lamby and my phone. As soon as we got to the stair well I could hear smoke detectors going off and I could smell smoke. When we got outside I saw a huge crowd of people watching my house burn down, and it took me a minute, but I finally got the courage to turn around and look. This is what I saw:
I burst into tears, realizing how serious this actually was, and the only thought I had was, who buzzed my building, because whoever it was saved our lives!

I asked around and somebody pointed out who buzzed our unit and I ran over to him, balling my eyes out and just told him, 'thank you' over and over. And then I realized I was barefoot, and it was hot, and my feet were boiling on the side walk, and little Nolan was inhaling all the smoke that was in the air, and we were alone because it was the middle of the day and all of our neighbors that we knew, and Collin, were at work, and I was about to have a serious meltdown. Then the sweetest little girl brought me slippers, a bottle of water, and her mom offered to let us watch from inside their home so Nolan didn't have to breath the smoke.

I made lots of phone calls, Collin jumped in a cab and headed home, so did all our neighbors, and we watched as the firefighters worked so hard to save our building. They did an incredible job.

Ultimately the fire was put out and we were able to go inside and look at the damage. Because the fire started on the roof, and because we lived on the 2nd floor of a 3 story building, the 3rd floor got the worst of it. Our dear friends who lived right above us had lost almost everything. It was heart breaking. Our unit was damaged mostly by smoke and water. We were able to send off quite a few of our belongings to a fire-recovery center and they saved so much of what they took. We really were so blessed, and it could have been so much worse than it was. All in all we only truly lost a few items to water/smoke damage. We were unable to even attempt to save anything that belonged to Nolan for insurance/liability purposes. But Nolan and I made it out safely, and nobody was injured in the fire, and that is absolutely all that really matters.

We were fortunate enough to have renters insurance which covered our losses and helped us with a place to stay while we looked for a new home. We also have the most amazing friends in the world, and within 1 hour of the fire Nolan was whisked away to play with his friends while Collin and I took care of the house. And because of our friends we had a hotel to stay in the night of the fire, and a house to stay in during the days to follow. We were so well taken care of and are so grateful for how everything turned out, despite how scary it all was.

The fire seemed so upsetting and such a big deal on that day. We had an adoption meeting set up for the day our house caught fire. We had huge summer plans for our little house. But none of that happened, and at the time is seemed like such a tragedy, but looking back (and I never thought I'd say this, especially on the day our house caught fire) the fire was the biggest blessing of the summer. Because of the fire we no longer had rent or bills to pay, and so when we got the heart-breaking phone call that my dad had cancer, we were literally able to drop everything and fly home to be with family.

*Water pouring down our walls
*The aftermath on the roof
*The firefighters hard at work
*It's hard to make out but this is a huge foot print from a fire-fighter (my favorite picture ever)

It's amazing how something so awful can end up being such a direct gift from God. And that was our Great [Smith] Chicago Fire.