To read how the tornado has affected our family from the beginning, click here
Today marks 4 months since the tornado.
I remember when I attended the debriefing where we were told that families affected would still be dealing with fallout 3 months later and what a hard time I had accepting that.
Here we are 4 months later, and...yeah...they were right.
Not that it's all necessarily bad - it isn't...it's just always...there. It's a part of everything we do, everywhere we go, every thought we have. The tornado on August 21 2011 is a part of us.
We're not as "into" Christmas this year. We have tried to make it fun, with our new "Elf on the Shelf" tradition, the usual Christmas baking and craft days, watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas CDs...but that's all mostly for Makenna and Jack. I myself am just not as into it this year. Most of my Christmas decorations are still packed away in boxes (except the tree, of course), and we didn't bother with any outdoor decorations or lights this year. Maybe it's because there isn't much snow on the ground, but I think it's mostly because we just have too much other stuff on our minds. It's hard to get swept away by Christmas and all that comes with it, when building a house is our priority. Choosing doors, lighting, shingles, siding colours, bathroom vanities, kitchen cabinets...this is going to be our home...I want to do it right. But when you try to do that, coupled with all that's involved with Christmas time - shopping, parties, wrapping, baking, visiting, kids' concerts, planning when to see everyone (which is a blog post in itself)...it's overwhelming trying to get it all done in time.
Since August I have had 2 dreams about tornadoes. Not nightmares, just dreams. and not of the tornado that hit Goderich, just of tornadoes in general. I only know of Jack having one. He has settled into daycare nicely, just in time for me to pull him out for 2 weeks over the holidays, and come January he only goes for 2.5 weeks before he returns to Jodi's, our home daycare provider who will have completed her maternity leave. Makenna's school work seems to have gotten back on track, thank goodness. She has been doing extremely well in Math lately, surprising both Jeff and I. She also seems to have an affinity for Science...so far anyway.
We have good days, full of hope, excitement and optimism...and we have "not so good" days, where we seem only able to see the negatives...or are just tired of this whole situation...or just want to be back on our old street, in our old neighbourhood, in our own home. We have days when we are happy to be patient, and days when...we aren't.
The book our family contributed to, "Not like any other Sunday" was released a couple weeks ago, and has been a resounding success. Sold out in a matter of hours in both its first and second printings, there is a waiting list for the third printing, expected in January. The media have taken an interest in this book, and in our family's story as well. We do not shy away from speaking to the media because I feel people need to understand the reality of the situation. That it still isn't over. That t's not just the buildings and the business fronts. Its not just the physical, that you can see with a camera. It's that people's lives have changed. Children's lives have changed. And also, that we are still here, still working, still fighting, still living our day to day lives. Maybe it will make you thankful for what you have. Maybe it will put things into perspective for you. Maybe it will help you be less quick to judge us, our town, and the decisions being made, if you see that real people are affected. We don't want your pity...we never have. That's not why we speak to the media. We want you to understand. To respect our town. To put yourselves in our shoes and question how you would handle it. Of course, when the media does come, does talk to us, and then gets it all wrong, like in this story, (6:46) that's frustrating too. Our names are spelled wrong. Cathy Cove's husband did not die. Makenna is not having nightmares. We are not spending Christmas at a friend's house this year, and the money used to build the homes right now, MOST CERTAINLY DID NOT come from the cheques lining the halls at Town Hall. If you are going to come and tell our story, which we want to tell, please,get it right.
As for our house - everyone wants to know the same 3 things - Who is building it, how's it coming along, and when we expect to be in.
Our contractor is from Brussels, about 40 mins away. Our house structure is up, framed in and wrapped. The shingles are on the roof, the electrical panel and stairwells are in and the windows are expected on Thursday. We may get "hydro" as a Christmas present on Friday. The goal was to have it closed in by Christmas and it looks like they are on track. Then they can work inside for the rest of the winter. We hope to be in, sometime this Spring. We are glad the building process is underway, as many others have to wait until Spring to even begin. My heart truly aches for them, as I could not imagine what it would do to me to drive my my old falling down house every day all winter long, knowing there was nothing to do but wait. We are waiting too, but are encouraged when we see progress on our property from week to week. Park Street is a hub of activity right now; many days its almost impossible to drive down it, the road is lined both sides with all of the workers' vehicles. Every single house on Park Street is either being repaired or rebuilt - every single one. While the same will be aid for St Patrick Street, the majority of them still sit as they have since August 21...tied up in, I assume, insurance and heritage headaches.
Above all else, we just want to go home. I miss my backyard and all of its flowers. I really do. I know they would all be gone by this time of year anyway, but we put every single plant on that property there over the past few years, and I miss them.I miss our composters. I know that's ridiculous, but I take pleasure in contributing to them all winter and seeing what we have produced in the Spring. Now we are just throwing it all out and it pains me to do so. I miss our front porch. We are getting a new one, and I know I wouldn't be on it much this time of year anyway, but I still miss it.
We haven't hung any photos or prints up on the walls where we are right now, because we didn't want to put a bunch of holes in the walls when we knew we we would just have to take all the pictures down again. They are all packed in boxes in our storage room, along with so many other boxes. The other day I needed my glue gun, and what should have been a simple 5 second task, going to get it, was a 30 minute expedition, hunting through boxes trying to find it.
As you can maybe tell, I am tired. That's kind of the main feeling/emotion right now. It's been 4 months, it's Christmas time, we are building a house under circumstances beyond our control, we need to replace various items and dig through boxes for others, we know that eventually we have to pack everything up AGAIN and move AGAIN....I'm just tired. It's getting old.
I will be in restaurants, or grocery stores, or line ups and overhear people talking about the rebuilding, the relief fund, the weather, or where they were that day,and their various opinions on all of the above. I stand there, forced to hear what they are saying, they having no idea I am one of "those poor people". People still ask if we were home at the time, how we are coping, what it was like. It is such old news to me now, I have a hard time believing those not affected are still so interested.
We feel like we need a break from our lives.
And we are taking one. Because sometimes, you can live your whole life being responsible, practical and doing what's "right", and a tornado still takes your house away anyway. Sometimes, you just have to do something because you want to. Because life is too short.
More on that next month.
So, 4 months later, we are carrying on with our "new normal". We are better off than a lot of others we know, and are grateful or that. The support of our friends, family and community continues to encourage and sustain us, and we continue to be humbled by the kindness of strangers.
We continue to believe that the spirit of our community is brighter, stronger, and more close knit than it ever was before. The people here are bonded together by something very few communities are. Despite everything that divides us, there are a few things that unite us. You have to live here, day in and day out, to truly understand what I mean. There really is no other place we want to live, than here in Goderich.
We are also grateful for the weather. Ironic that it was extreme weather that caused all of this, and now the lack of extreme weather, which we all expect at this time of year, is allowing us to rebuild at a pace we normally wouldn't be able to in December.
I wish all of you the very best of the holiday season. I know many of my readers are also struggling to get into the Christmas Spirit this year, and I completely understand and respect that. I wish you all, from the bottom of my heart, a happy, healthy and better, new year.
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