To read earlier entries about the tornado, click here.
This will be a "get you up to date" post...
We brought our kids back to Goderich on the Saturday Saturday the 27th, aafter celebrating the birthdays of Makenna and 3 of her cousins at Jeff's parents' farm.
7 people within 2 families lived under one roof and coexisted very well together...better than I thought we would have. Our hosts were exceptional - providing for our every need, anticipating everything before we did. As soon as our kids arrived and became comfortable with their new surroundings, Darren's wife Jen sat down with them and made a big grocery list, ensuring she got food they were used to eating too. Their daughter and our daughter, already close friends, enjoyed spending so much time together as if they were sisters and were often heard giggling well past bedtime. Our son worked his magic and charmed Darren and Jen to no end. One night he even ran across the room right past his Daddy and jumped up into Darren's lap to snuggle in and watch TV.
Jeff returned to work the following Monday, 8 days after the tornado. I did not, as there were still so many things to take care of, phone calls to make and appointments to be available and present for.
Dealing with the claims department for our vehicle insurance proved to be frustrating, time consuming, and exhausting. Throughout this time we were borrowing another firefighter's truck, and my cousin's Escape...both of which were wonderful and such a huge help to us, but both of which were only temporary. We didn't have rental insurance on our vehicles because, as Jeff said when purchasing the policy "what are the chances both vehicles will ever be down at the exact same time?"
What are the chances.
After many days of bickering back and forth, and me finally handling the "negotiations" like a "Noble" would, we settled our claims. Jeff found a truck almost exactly like his old one and my mom is "gifting" her van to me. We are so glad to have this part behind us, although really...we just want our old vehicles back.
I called and cancelled all of the services to our house on Park Street (hydro, gas, water heater, phone, cable, etc). Each service provider wanted to know my reasons for cancelling.
So I told them.
I must admit, I did grin a bit each and every time as there was silence, then stuttering, then apologies and condolences, and of course, the need to hear our story. Were we home at the time? We we alright? Well that's the main thing isn't it?
Yes, yes it is.
But just for the record? This whole thing is still a huge pain in the ass.
I had a long chat with the water heater company about whether or not they really expected me to buy out my contract since they would be unable to come in and remove the water heater themselves. They expected I would buy it out and I informed them there was absolutely no way I was purchasing something that I would never use again and would be bulldozed in the near future.
I won that argument.
I became so frustrated with my phone and internet provider that I actually cancelled my service with them and switched to another provider altogether.
After a few false starts and miscommunications, I did take both kids to trauma counselling. It proved very beneficial for them, especially for my daughter who I was most worried about. I was able to sit in on her session, watch as she drew pictures of her house both before and after the tornado, and discuss how she felt about it all. The counsellor was able to get her to say things I couldn't, and the session had me in silent tears more than once.
After spending 14 days at Darren and Jen's, we moved across town into a rental home, the one that Jeff's friend Rick offered us. Each kid has their own bedroom, there is a big backyard and a finished basement. When it came time to move and unload the 48 foot storage trailer, there was nothing on Earth I was dreading more. Our fire chief set the pagers off, dispatching "anyone available" to our new address. Our fire family responded with their wives and children and the trailer was unloaded in under 2 hours. It was now time for us to set up our new, albeit temporary, home. We held Makenna's birthday party with my family there that same weekend.
We have met with 3 different contractors from the North Huron area. Each one came and toured the house, and later met with us again to go over their proposals. We have decided on which contractor to use and once our house insurance agent officially agrees, we will wait for a demo permit from the town so that our house can come down and the rebuilding process can begin.
Our daughter began grade 2 on Sept 6, one day after her 7th birthday. Our rental home is 4 houses away from her school.
I was also faced with the task of transitioning our son into municipal daycare during this time. Jodi, our home daycare provider of 6 years is taking her first leave of absence since she began working. She is expecting her third child this month. I knew this all along and had long ago decided to enroll Jack in our municipal daycare once the time came...it just so happened that the time came at the same time everything else came. This was the first time I had ever left either of my children in any other child care provider's care long term, the first time in Jack's life. We visited the centre 3 times, each one full of tears...not just from Jack. Today was his first full day there without mommy and he broke my heart. He cried, I cried, even the director of the childcare centre herself was close to tears. The thing about living in a small town is that everyone knows everyone and it doesn't take long for others to learn of your story. Thankfully, I know many of the Goderich Daycare staff on a personal level, including Jack's primary teacher. Thankfully everyone there is very understanding of Jack's situation and emotions. Hopefully it won't take long for Jack to return to his happy, outgoing charming self.
And the truffles?
My friend Jen, who washed Jeff's workclothes that day we packed up the house as per Patti and Sheila's orders, who took that giant bag of flour off my hands when I could no longer keep it, who hosted a dinner the night after we packed up our house and let Jeff shower in her home...she is one hell of a chef. Always has been. I have gotten many fabulous recipes from her over the years. I knew if I could trust anyone with the task of whipping up 450 truffles she had never made before with a week's notice, it would be her. She never hesitated and was half done the day after I asked. 492 chocolate chip cookie dough truffles were delivered to my cousin's wedding this past weekend, and received rave reviews...even from my brother who was skeptical at the idea of anyone else making them but me.
As I sit here writing this, it has been 22 days since the tornado touched down. I returned to work for the first time today. It took me 22 days to feel like enough had been settled, solved and calmed down that I could return to my life.
It is not "all better"...things are not "back to normal" and won't be for a very long time. When I drive down our street my chest gets tight and my eyes burn with the threat of more tears. When I hear people talking about the tornado while in line ups at the grocery store or the bank, I want to tell them they have no idea what it's really like.
I stay quiet though.
When a thunderstorm approaches my heart quickens and I get nervous.
The killer though?
When I allow myself to remember the moment in the bathroom of that house when I discovered I was pregnant with Jack, remembering when I was in labour with him in my bedroom, remembering when we paced all the floors in that house with him for months after he was born, remembering the moments both kids took their first steps in the same hallway, when Jeff's dad installed the homemade staircase, when we finished the basement to be a toyroom/firefighter den, recalling the birthdays celebrated both indoors and out, sitting on the swings in tears in the backyard rocking Jack after I learned my mom was leaving her partner, spending hours on the phone in the basement with my dad over the past few years, planting every single shrub, flower and vine on that property as per my grandmother's meticulous instructions, seeing in my mind's eye Jodi walking through our front door asking Makenna to be her flower girl, teaching Makenna the beauty of vegetable gardens from planting the seed to sealing the jar on the pickles, my 30th birthday with my friends in the backyard and the garage, remembering when I stood at my island in the kitchen on the phone iwth my dad and hearing him whisper that grandma had died and then later arranging her antique kitchen tools on a shelf in that same kitchen, Tim and Nicole walking through that front door to announce they were finally going to be parents, sitting on the phone in the living room learning that Heather was pregnant...running for the phone when it rang, in tears before I ever even answered it, knowing it was Adam announcing Lindsay was pregnant, sitting at my kitchen table learning Jodi was pregnant...and so many more...when I allow myself to remember these special moments, some of them life changing moments...the tears return.
It is not "all better".
I look back at the last 3 weeks and I think
"Did all of that really happen? Did we really go through all of that? Say all of that? Feel all of that? Were there really firefighters in the back of pickup trucks patrolling our pitch black and silent streets with flashlights? Did Barry really board up my front door with a drill he dug out of our garage, by flashlight? Did I really cry my eyes out to the Manager of Huron County Children's Services? Various OPP officers? Various Victim Services colleagues? The Director of the Goderich Daycare? All of whom I correspond with on a professional basis? Did I really not see my husband or know the danger he and my brother were really in for the better part of 2 days? Did my Mom and Paul really walk in from Saltford to get the kids? Did Lynn and I really walk those kids all over what looked like a warzone in our neighbourhood, carrying a suitcase and 2 carseats the whole time? Did all of that really happen?
Yes, it really did.
This has been our story. The story of us, our tornado story, the way I remember it.
12 seconds has forever changed the four of us.
12 seconds will stay with the four of us for the rest of our lives.
12 seconds we will never get back.
12 seconds strengthened my entire extended family.
12 seconds gave me a new perspective on what is important and what is not.
12 seconds changed my community, changed my friendships, changed my life.
There will be one more post in this series...stay tuned...
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