There are many, many things I am thankful for during the night of the fire. One of the things I am most thankful for was the fact that my two boys, ages 11 and seven, were not home at the time. I am so glad that they were spared the trauma of seeing a fire envelope the house, and didn’t have to stand outside all that cold, dreary, drizzly night.
After the dust had settled on Sunday, and we were facing the reality of our situation, I had the task of telling my kids what had happened. This was something I was absolutely dreading.
The boys had been with their dad for the weekend, and weren’t expected home until around 6 pm. I knew I had to be the one to tell them, and because of the relationship I have with their dad, I knew if I asked for any changes in drop off or pick up, things would get messy quickly. Because of the emotions and logistics that my parents and I were dealing with, we decided it would be best if we waited, took care of our business, and tried to pick them up a little early to tell them.
This worked out okay, although, it did give me the whole day to worry about how they would react as I was going through the motions of the day.
Before the fire, the plan was that Elliott was going to be dropped off at our house by his grandpa at 5:30, and then I could go pick up Spencer from baseball practice at 6:00. I decided to call the boys’ grandpa to request an earlier pick up time, because I didn’t want Elliott to get dropped off at our house and see the destruction without any explanation beforehand.
This worked well, but the reason I gave for needing to pick Elliott up early was that we had a family emergency. I should have told his grandpa not to relay this information to Elliott, because the poor kid was so worried about what the emergency was when I picked him up, and he didn’t let it go when I told him I would tell him after we got Spencer.
We went and got Spencer from practice, and while driving in a car and with clothes that smelled heavily of the smell of a house fire, we told the boys about the fire. Spencer was a bit indifferent, almost skeptical, and Elliott began to cry. It was tough.
Elliott’s room got hit the hardest, and we weren’t able to salvage anything from his room. He’s also my child who is most attached to his things. He loves his toys and his stuffed animals and I could tell he was crushed. It crushed me. I tried to turn it positive and remind the boys that no one was hurt and that is really the most important thing of all.
Spencer took it like Spencer takes a lot of things-in stride. He acted like it didn’t bother him much, but he did have quite a few questions. Elliott did too. That was a pretty hard question and answer session. Quite awful, in fact.
We drove them to the house and showed them the back where the fire had ravaged the most. Elliott began to cry. No one wanted to get out of the car, so we left and went to my sister’s house for the night. It was somber. Lots of cuddles and more and more questions from Elliott as the reality of the situation set in.
That was a really, really hard mom moment.