Saturday, February 3, 2018

Slow Cookers and House Fires and TV Shows and Such

Spoiler Alert: #ThisIsUs spoilers ahead if you're not caught up.

Once upon a time, I started this blog to process my thoughts and feelings about our house fire and to share the rebuilding process with our friends and neighbors. It was a healing space and as time went on it became more about our family life in general and less about the fire. Years went by. I went to college. I was working. I was busy with kids. I meant to blog. I really did. Before I knew it, two years had gone by. It seemed like maybe time had moved on and this space for processing the fire was no longer needed.

Then along came This is Us. I met the Pearson family on the NBC show This Is Us and like so many others I developed a love for all of them as the seasons developed. It’s been obvious from the beginning that somewhere along the story line, Jack Pearson had died and I knew at some point we’d have to endure his death on the screen. It’s become more obvious in recent weeks that Jack’s death involved a fire. Fire touches nerves ‘round here and I didn’t feel too comfortable with knowing I would have to watch a house fire at some point if I remained dedicated to this show. But oh, I was already deeply dedicated.   

And then the Pearson’s neighbor packed up an old slow cooker (what most of us know as a Crock Pot) among other items and walked it all over to the Pearsons.

My heart may have actually stopped beating for a moment.      

I was mortified. I have waited and watched every single episode, only to relive my nightmare and watch this family lose their home and likely, their husband and father, to a house fire caused by a bad crock. Unbelievable. They did not seriously do that to me.

I’ve ridden the roller coaster of emotions the past few weeks through renewed grief, fear, panic, and the overwhelming feeling of loss and devastation.  This show has reminded me how deep and raw the fire remains not just for me, but for the whole herd. Every family member is affected. It’s not as raw as it was in the beginning, the night of that phone call that is forever seared in my memory. There has been healing. But the scars are still fairly fresh and they will always be there.

Just last night, Rough Stuff told me that sometimes when we pull up in front of our home and she steps out of the car, she can still smell the fire. The Big Guy has shared recently that he still feels guilt for not being able to save our stuff- all of the tangible memories that our family held dear; Rough Stuff’s porcelain doll, Tuna’s little stuffed bear, the magnets on the fridge that portrayed the kids’ kindergarten art projects. And our sweet Little Bean- she isn’t so little now, a middle schooler- is still processing through trauma therapy. She felt that she had to be strong and keep all of her feelings in while everyone else was breaking around her. Every one of us has our own unique scars from the fire.   
This fire changed us all and not all of the changes are bad. There is grace and strength and resiliency in our story. This week though, the bad is what is seeping through and that’s ok. Sometimes we have to let it fester up and work its way out. That’s part of the healing process. I just never expected a TV show to reopen the wounds. Who knew, huh?

I’ve seen a lot of chatter on social media this past week about whether slow cookers can cause house fires. Some people think it can’t happen, but I think what they really believe, or want to believe, is that it can’t happen to them. Yes, it can. Anything that is plugged in can short out and cause a fire. Newer homes, newer appliances, and newer electrical wiring all reduce the risk, but it can happen.

If you take anything at all from my story or from the Pearson’s story on This is Us, let it be this:

Check the batteries in your smoke alarms.
Our smoke alarms were working, until they melted off of their mounts.  

Turn off and unplug your appliances and don’t leave them operating when you are not at home.
Our family was away less than a half hour when the slow cooker shorted out. Just unplug it.    

Treasure each day with your loved ones- even the mundane school/work/practice loaded ones.

Because things happen. Things that can change your life in an instant.    

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