Like most Tuesday mornings I arrived into the office a little after 7am and began my day diving into the market, covering items with the team, and talking to a few clients and prospects. As I was picking up the phone mid-morning, I saw my significant other, SarahRose, calling the main office. My eyes lit up, I smiled and answered the phone. Before I could finish the word hello, she interrupted and said, “our house is on fire.” “WHAT” I replied. “Baker and I are ok but there are huge flames, black smoke is everywhere and the fire department is on their way.” “I’ll be right there” I replied.
As I was driving home, which is only about a mile and a half from the office, I could smell smoke in the air as I navigated multiple fire engines and police cars. When I entered the neighborhood I saw my street filled with emergency vehicles. “That’s my house. I’m driving to my house. My house is the one on fire,” I said, as I somehow squeezed through. Even though I knew SarahRose said she was ok, I experienced an overwhelming sigh of relief as I parked in the neighbor’s driveway and was able to hold her. At this point the body and mind are in overdrive, I could feel my body shaking, heart pumping as we walked into a neighbor’s house to see the fire. It was bad. I knew from that first glimpse, our lives were forever changed. The afternoon was spent going from spot to spot trying to see “what happened” and “how bad are things.” With each passing minute the reality that we would not be returning home again set in.
The next couple of hours were spent in shock, pacing around, talking to fire officials, neighbors, insurance, family and friends. Before the fire department left they provided a walk through and comments about the fire. It was overwhelming. As we walked through the home, we saw room after room, destroyed, and covered in soot. As we entered the living room, tears began rolling down SarahRose’s face. “Look at Baker’s crate.” The TV above had melted and his crate was nothing more than melted plastic and metal. I felt what she was thinking, what if Baker had been in there? We are very fortunate that no one was home.
As the fire marshal drove away, there we were. Standing in the driveway with the clothes on our back, homeless and three stomachs (Baker would be upset if he wasn’t included) growling of hunger.
On July 7th I learned and experienced a great deal about the age-old question “what’s important in life?” When you’re standing in your driveway at 8pm to a home that is no longer there, and nothing but the clothes on your back, trust me, you learn a few things.
To the outside eye it appears that we’ve lost everything, but in reality, we’ve had everything we could ever need all along. Ironically a “total loss” fire has proven to be a great illumination in this truth of life. Throughout this process it’s quite apparent that what remains after the fire is real and everything else, is just everything else. No lives were lost, no relationships destroyed, quite opposite, it’s been a time of overwhelming love and support. For that I am filled with gratitude and believe relationships are the real foundation of life. Our human connection is so important. Throughout this time, I want to thank everyone for offering kindness, concern and valuable input. The genuine connection with community is indescribable. Stuff is just stuff. It all boils down to love. After weeks of receiving support from so many, I’m reminded and humbled about the gift and conviction in my duty to be there for others. Please know, for me and our firm it’s not about whether we meet in the office or talk during business hours. As a friend and client to us, I want you to know we are here for you and have a vested interest to look after you and your families no matter what life throws your way.
What’s here today may not be here tomorrow. Life is going pretty darn good for many of us and sometimes it’s easy to get overly concerned about where we want to be or where we’ve been. However, the present moment is all there is. The past and future are only thoughts. I’ve just re-read (it’s a quick read) Eckhart Tolle’s book “The Power of Now,” which I might add is a great book. With life now rearranged, its apparent that today I’ve been given a priceless asset: time. We’re all offered the same seconds, minutes and hours in a day, and from this experience there’s a renewed sense about the gift of today.
These last few weeks have taught me a lot. From relationships to navigating insurance claims and dramatic life events. It’s all been a fire hose, pun intended, of learning that in the coming months I plan to share a bit more on. I wish I had someone as a resource like I will be for those who need help in the future. Someone who knows what to expect, understands the murky details and can relieve the burden of an unknown and overwhelming experience. If this letter happens to spark any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m happy to put my experience to good use for anyone who can benefit from it.
As we enter August this week, summer is yet again flying by. Please know it’s been a pleasure seeing many of you via zoom and other remote connections this season. As time continues on, we continue to be here giving you optimism about life and money.