67: Life Reignited

67: Life Reignited

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

Life Reignited

When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.

~C.S. Lewis

October 19 started out like any other morning. A single mom, I rushed about the house getting my son and myself ready for work and daycare. I remember putting on my favorite pair of jeans even though I should have worn something a bit dressier for work. As we headed out the door that morning I tripped over some dinosaur toys strewn across the entryway. I told my son that when we got home that night we were going to have to really clean up the house so we didn’t break a leg on all those toys. I dropped him off at daycare and headed to work.

I hadn’t been at work ten minutes when the call came. My house was on fire. My boss rushed me to my home. As we turned onto my street, all I could see were fire trucks and police cars. We parked half a block away and I ran up the street. I reached my driveway to see the thick black smoke rolling out of my house. A fireman was chopping holes in my roof with an axe.

I remember officers talking with me, neighbors offering hugs, friends arriving, the fire chief explaining to me what would happen next, and the smell of the smoke.

Hours passed as I stood in the driveway and watched the firefighters work. They chopped holes in my home and threw burnt items out the windows.

As I watched I started to laugh. I didn’t laugh because house fires are particularly funny. I laughed because I had told my son we had to clean the house tonight and now that seemed like an impossible task. I laughed because I was wearing my favorite jeans and we all know how hard it is to find a great pair of jeans. But most of all I laughed because I had to two options in that moment.

I could give in to the pain and cry, or I could choose to find the joy and laughter in the darkest of situations. I made the choice in that moment, in my driveway, surrounded by smoke, to laugh. I made the decision to find the positive and focus on that.

The fire allowed my son and me to rebuild our lives. Our lives were spared that day. We had the chance to start over fresh, to create the best life possible for us. The possessions that I thought meant so much were gone. But the things that really mattered in our lives stayed intact. Joy, gratitude, laughter — those things can’t be burnt!

In the weeks after the fire, we were blessed by the generosity of friends and strangers alike. Our new apartment was bare, but our hearts were full and we were happy.

I learned that you really need very little to survive. Instead of eating at a kitchen table, we had lots of picnics on the living room floor. All the toys my son had before were barely missed.

Instead, we spent more time playing outside together, reading, and listening to music. All those knickknacks that I thought I had to have were replaced, but only with things I truly loved or that my son and I created together.

In our new life, we banned excess. When you each have only a few outfits, it makes laundry day much easier. Since I didn’t have to spend so much time picking up the house, I actually had time to do some of the things I loved again. I sat and read a great book. I created art pieces to hang in our new place. I started getting a full night’s sleep every night.

The fire simplified my life. The power that “stuff” had over me before was gone. My heart was more open and my mind was calmer.

Instead of just creating a new home I was able to create a new life. A life that I designed from scratch. This new life was filled with laughter, creativity, fun, gratitude, and very little stuff.

The fire lit a spark in me that had been out for a very long time. My passion for life was reignited and I was ready to live again. With my son beside me, and wearing my favorite jeans, I was able to laugh in the face of tragedy.

~Jessie Wagoner

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