I work for a local restoration and reconstruction company not far from where I live in Jacksonville. For the most part, I spend my days in the office as a Customer Service Liaison…
Until today, I had never been to an initial loss site visit. I’ve been on job sites that were already in progress, but was not prepared for what I saw and experienced today.
A fire loss.
We arrived at a beautiful home in the cute, historic-ish neighborhood of San Marco. From the outside, it didn’t seem like the damage would be wide spread. After all, we were briefed that the loss was minimal smoke and fire damage in a few parts of the house.
This was not the case and what I saw filled me with so much sadness I could barely stand it.
With respirators on we went in to the house to document damage and contents. Tagging items that could possibly be saved and others that were so damaged but had sentimental meaning to the Homeowner.
My job was to take pictures of each damaged room. In this case, it was all rooms. Fifteen to be exact, not including exterior.
It took me almost two hours to take all the pictures, and as those two hours passed, immersed among the residual smoke, fire and soot damage, seeing the loss of memories created over the course of more than 30 years, I became not only physically ill, but heartsick too. Knowing the feeling of loss. Understanding the finality of it. That you cannot replace what is gone.
The Bible tells us we shouldn’t be drawn in to attachment of material “things”. The reality is, the memory of your wedding day in a 24 x 12 frame, most likely holds an attachment to your heart and soul. As it should. Now, it’s gone forever.
Along with melted kitchen appliances, computers, books, furniture, clothes, mattresses, linens, shoes, jewelry, musical instruments, carpets, pet toys, and the list goes on.
(stock photo found on Google; not actual job site)
Even though I was wearing my respirator, booties and gloves, it was not enough to keep the smell of smoke from permeating not only my hair and clothes, but also in to my eyes and lungs. Leaving me with an excruciating headache and mild nausea. I wanted to get out of there. To flee from the bleakness of the situation.
And then I saw the Homeowner, slowly and methodically going through items in the Master Bedroom. Trying to find something, anything, salvageable that pertains to his life. Moving things from one side of the room to the other. I quietly offered my apologies and moved along to finish my pictures and giving him his privacy among the remains of his belongings.
This was a total loss. The house will need to be gutted; demoed to the studs. Rebuilt. So that this family can return and fill their home with new memories as they honor the ones that were created before this devastating loss.
We wrapped up and were on our way to another location. A mold remediation job. I have had the pleasure of assisting this family for many weeks on the phone, through two unrelated losses. I was really looking forward to meeting her.
When we arrived she invited us in. Her home was welcoming and warm. The smell of homemade cookies baking in the oven. Heaven. Heaven compared from where we had just come from.
The stark contrast of brightness and cookies and blackness and soot that still remained in our memory and on our clothes was not lost on us.
We conducted our business. Signed paperwork and left with a full, warm tin of homemade, gluten-free peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies made with love and gratitude.
They were incredibly delish! We housed almost half of the tin before we even got back to the office! Hey, no judgement! Besides, we shared with everyone 😉
For the remainder of the day I sat at my desk with the smell of smoke jammed up my nose and looking forward to coming home to get out of my clothes and wash the sadness and smell of loss out them. To literally undress the memory from my brain and my body.
I ask you dear readers, please pray for this family that has lost everything so close to Christmas. Pray for those who are struggling right now. The homeless. The poor. The disadvantaged. The lonely. Pray for your neighbor, and even for your enemies.
Because in just a blink of an eye, it can all be taken away. It is all so incredibly temporary.
Be kind. Show love. Be genuine. Give of your time. I promise, you won’t be sorry.
Until next time…
Love, Jeni ❤