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Routine. I'm back to a smidgeon of a routine this morning, even though things still feel surreal. Mattresses in my living room--disarray in every room, but the house is quiet and first thing after I awoke, my cat Rudy and I sat together in a chair like we do every morning. Me drinking coffee and reading, Rudy waiting for me to gently rub his head and ears. Rudy loves to have his ears rubbed.
My husband and I sent our son, his wife and our grandsons to a hotel last night. Two adjoining rooms: one for Mom and Dad, one for grandsons James and Paul. A pool, fancy soaps and shampoos on the vanity, pillows out of a "Goldilocks and the Three Bears Tale," (each pillow tied with light green band of material and labeled soft, med and fluffy.) Fancy linens and crisp, white sheets; no smell of smoke, nothing charred and blackened. Macaroni and cheese on the kid's menu, Paul and James' favorite. "Take care of my babies in rooms 305 and 307," I told the man behind the registration desk, who'd given me a super 'fire-sale' rate when he heard about what had happened.
"Fire-sale." Where did that come from? Surprised I could even write such a thing this morning, but then again, humor brings a smile to my face and changes something inside of me. Gives me another shot of energy so I can continue taking care of things that need to be done--after the fire.
Yes, you can breathe, the air is safe. Last evening my family was able to cautiously let down just a little bit, because of the homemade cookies a reader dropped off at my home yesterday, the gift cards and food a friend gave to us, a box of clothes another friend delivered, the hundreds and hundreds of emails from readers surrounding us with love, prayers and encouragement, and a woman who handed me the keys to her lovely 3-story home that's surrounded by trees and gardens. She and her husband had moved to a new home, this empty house is on the market, and this logical, matter-of-fact angel read my column and thought, 'What can I do to help? Why, I have a vacant home. I'll call Suzanne, meet her at four o'clock today, tell her that trash day is Monday, remind her that Nancy, a friend of mine, lives right behind the house. 'So if you need anything rap on her door.' No questions asked, she handed me the keys to her home.
My husband, daughter-in-law and I (our son had to pick up the grandsons from day school) arrived early to meet the angel with the house. We kept repeating to ourselves that we shouldn't fully embrace the idea that this could be "home" for a while. People can get caught up in an emotional moment, but then when the "what-ifs" register in your mind, a mental battle ensues and sometimes sadly from experience and with shame, I admit the "what-ifs" have won over my own heart at times.
But I doubt that the what-ifs even crossed this woman's mind. 'I'm here to help and I'm happy to do it' was the message her eyes were sending to us. And she did help, more than she'll ever know. She rescued our family. Her selfless generosity has left a thread of kindness, in the fabric of our hearts, that will never be forgotten.
I'm in the tub as I write this morning's column. (I know, I know, "more information than we need to know" as my editor frequently tells me.) But the soot and smoke smell doesn't easily wash away. I'm still working on it. And today, while the grandchildren are at day school, my daughter-in-law and I will pick up supplies and turn the vacant house into a home for a weary--but definitely loved by many--family.
May your day be filled with the love that my family and I feel this very moment in our hearts. God bless you.
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
AUTHORBUZZ: A book that became a movie, a $20 Amazon gift card, a trailer produced by an Emmy Award winner and every author is giving away free books. Congratulations to last week's $25 book store gift card winner: Teresa Rice.
Meet authors and enter-to-win: Debbie Macomber/CALL ME MRS. MIRACLE; Jennifer Estep/VENOM; Katia Lief/YOU ARE NEXT; Antoinette van Heugten/SAVING MAX; and Ramola D./TEMPORARY LIVES. Go to: http://authorbuzz.com/dearreader
* This month's Penguin Classics book is TEVYE THE DAIRYMAN AND MOTL THE CANTOR'S SON by Sholem Aleichem. Start reading now and enter to win a Penguin totebag. Go to: http://tinyurl.com/September10Classics