To read about how the tornado has affected our family from the beginning, click here.
Another thirty days have went by since the F3 tornado on August 21 2011; it’s now been 5 months.
Winter has finally decided to arrive, albeit a few months late. Our family celebrated a great Christmas with our children and extended families. We were very touched by the gift from my brother and his wife. On Christmas Day we learned that back in November, on the day of our house demolition, Mike arrived in Goderich very early, before we were even out of bed, broke into our house on Park Street and set to work dismantling our staircase. The one Jeff’s dad had built for us when we moved in. Mike later presented the step risers and spindles to my uncle Jim, who made a sign for our new home.
It means a lot to me that my little brother had the foresight to do something like that for us, and I look forward to finding the perfect place for it in our new house.
It has been 30 days since my last monthly update, and in those 30 days, 3 of them saw work done to our house.
I know it’s a process. I know we are further ahead than others in town. I know it will all come together. I know.
But 3 days out of 30? Come On. If you were me, you’d be discouraged too.
So, our house is all framed in, has windows and a roof. The electrical panel is in the basement, hydro and gas services have both been reconnected, and the interior walls of the basement are studded and vapour barriered. The front porch has been started, which improves the appearance of the front of the house. Before it looked so tall!
The next step inside the house, I think, is running the wiring. We met with the electrician last week and marked throughout the house where to place each light switch and outlet, and came home from that meeting feeling energized and excited.
But no electrical work has yet to have taken place. Maybe next week.
I expected us to be farther along than we are. I expected them to work on it more than they have been. It’s been difficult for me to adjust to the reality of building a house. To accept that my house isn’t the only one on the “to do” list. I’ve always been terrible at waiting. Patience has never been a virtue of mine. I see work being done every day to other houses in my neighbourhood, including ones that were started after mine and are now way ahead of mine and to be honest, as I write this today, I am feeling pretty down and discouraged about the whole thing. The good news is that when work is being done, we are thrilled with the progress.
Looking at the bigger picture, our street continues to be a hub of activity. It was recently featured in a Youtube video for Goderich’s bid to become Kraft Hockeyville. Our house is one of 9 or 10 being built in our neighbourhood right now, with still more waiting to come down and start their processes. It is quite possible that at least one, maybe more families will be back in their homes for the 6 month anniversary one month from now.
With winter comes more wind. With the first snowfall came questions from both kids about the possibility of “snow tornadoes”.
“Is there such thing as snow tornadoes?” “Snowstorms come in off the lake, just like the tornado did”. “What about the wind from a snow storm? What does it do to houses?” They are constantly worried and fearful of the wind.
“No, there is no such thing as a snow tornado.”
“Yes, snow storms come in off the lake, but they don’t hurt your house. They can make it hard to see when you’re driving, but they don’t hurt houses”.
Both kids had another appointment with a children’s therapist this month. During his appointment, Jack never stopped talking, laughing, charming and joking around. He drew pictures of his old house, his new house and what he wants his bedroom to look like. We discussed his need to frequently talk about what happened, why it happened, what may happen, etc. He persistently asks why this happened, and when we will back in our house… two questions that, much to his frustration, I cannot answer for him. I’m advised to keep re framing the discussion to focus on the positive.
Yes, this happened. Yes it was scary. But remember how the basement kept us safe? Remember how Jim and Joyce kept you safe? Remember how all your toys and clothes were okay? Remember when you went to Grandma Tam’s and were safe? Remember that we are in another house now, while we wait and you have your own room and all of your toys? Wow, you have a lot of questions about that. How come? What are you thinking about? Is there something worrying you?
Focus on the positive.
Good advice, not just for the child.
Makenna’s appointment a few hours later, was much quieter. It was like pulling teeth getting her to talk. She was old enough to know the reason why she was there and wasn’t really interested in discussing it. What she did offer, was that she is scared of the wind. If she is outside and it’s windy, she needs to come in. If she hears the wind while laying in bed, she can’t sleep and needs to be comforted by us. In her mind, wind is a threat.
We discussed the many positive things that wind can accomplish. Cooling you off on a hot day. Pollination. Bringing leaves to the ground to jump in. We discussed the difference between regular every day wind, and tornadoes. We discussed the meanings of the words “common” and “rare”. We also discussed all of the happy, great things that have happened since the tornado. Her birthday. Thanksgiving. Cheerleading. School. Christmas. The list went on and the point was to draw attention to the fact that the tornado was just one thing in her life….there have been so many great things happen since that day.
Again, all good advice. And not just for the child.
At the conclusion of both sessions, the therapist assured me both kids were doing fine, having normal reactions, and that I was doing everything right as I try to guide them through this. She thought both kids act older than they are and are extremely perceptive to what’s going on around them, and what’s going on with the grown ups in their lives. Logically, if these were anyone else’s children, I would say the same thing. That they are doing really well considering all that has happened in their lives. That their parents are taking all the right steps and saying all the right things to help them through it.
But they aren’t anyone else’s kids, they are my kids…and most of the time I have no idea how to handle all of this myself, much less how to reassure them. I don’t know why it happened. I don’t know when we will be back in our house. I don’t know when it will be “all better”. I don’t know if another tornado will come to Goderich…and honestly, there are times the wind scares the hell out of me too.
Jack's last regular day at daycare is this coming Wednesday. Despite his rough start, he has really blossomed there. I have much respect and gratitude for the staff in his classroom, the director, and the staff as a whole for working so hard to ease his transition, be there for my family and work to help us through this. Their dedication, compassion and care for us and our situation truly showed in the way they interacted with Jack, and with me. I owe a lot to them for what they have done and provided for us over the past 5 months. Jack has made many great friends that will be with him in Kindergarten next year and really enjoys his time at daycare now. As a result I have decided to keep him there on Mondays, and then he will spend Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays back at Jodi's home daycare, where he is very excited to teach baby Liam everything he knows.
Back in November, an opportunity presented itself and we decided to grab it. We took advantage of a one day sale and booked a trip for the 4 of us down south. To the same resort my mom, grandma, aunt, uncle and two cousins had already booked at. We have been keeping it a secret from our children and my grandma (so don't tell her!) as we want to surprise them the day of...which is this coming Thursday.
At first I didn't think it would be proper, or a good idea to do something like this at a time like this when we are building a house. Jeff and I have never been on an all inclusive trip together before, our kids have never flown, and there is so much going on here that it didn't make much sense to pick this time in our lives to go on a vacation such as this.
But you know what?
Sometimes you can spend your whole life doing what makes sense and what's proper. Sometimes you can spend your whole life being responsible and doing what "you're supposed to do". Sometimes you can do all that, and a tornado will come along and take away everything you have worked so hard for anyway.
So sometimes, its okay to do something because you want to. Because you feel like it. So that's what we're doing. In hopes of creating some happy memories, of enjoying a distraction from our reality, of spending some special time with family.
Of course now, the weather forecast is calling for rain and thunderstorms every single day that we are there, which will undoubtedly just create more stress.
Sometimes I wonder why I even bother.
Not a lot has changed for us in the last month.
In a word, I would describe myself as feeling…weary.
There is still so much to do, still so far to go, and it’s old news now. People don’t want to hear about it anymore. They ask how the house is coming, and more often than not, are surprised that we aren’t home yet. This, I find ridiculous, as no one is home yet. Those who aren’t affected, really have no idea.
I know it could be worse. I know there are families, businesses and individuals in worse situations than us. I am reminded of that everyday.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to be frustrated. To be sad. To be angry and annoyed. I know there are people worse off, but I’m still allowed to feel what I feel. And somedays, I need to be allowed to feel sorry for myself.
We all do.
Yeah…this month’s update has a pretty negative tone. I think because there isn’t much new to report since last month. And in a process like this, a month is such a long time. So much can be accomplished in a month.
It’s a process. The journey continues.
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