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NOTE: This story originally appeared on Polyvore. So many things in just one week. My Polyvore.com friends, we are thankful for your kind comments and for your pms and good wishes. We have read each and every one as a family and are grateful to have each one.

As we rebuild our lives, we experience ups and downs and mostly times that we have no up or down until you bump into something that reminds you of your new reality. We meet with the Red Cross mental health counselor and that was very helpful. He helped us see that we had more time than we thought to make decisions. He also helped us think of decision making in terms of “win-win” options. At first I thought that was strange but as we have at the options we have we see things differently. What seemed hard to decide between is not differences of opinion but having a hard time choosing between two good paths. We are able to realize that the decision is being forced on us because of losing our home but here are some ideas we can come up with.

One of the ecological things that we are dealing with is de-vegetated and ash-covered ground. When the wind goes by small whirlwinds, tiny tornadoes, come up. They are called dirt-devils. When we were working on the site yesterday, one came from high off the hill, moved into the remains of my house, spun up the ash and then moved on. I was reminded of the spirit of the whirlwind in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible.

Our ancient, reliable red Subaru was in the garage when the house died. It is a very thin car wafer now. We had always wondered what would happen to the car. We could not give it up because it was clean, still ran like a top and, well, was part of the family. I like to think that it died a noble death standing sentinel over the house until the very last.

Each thing we find is a treasure and sadness when we see how it is now compared to what it was.

When we first made our way through the rubble I dug out the battered lid to one of my beloved cooking pans. I raised it in the air in victory. I found a second lid. Waved that one. Then I thought, where are the pots!? I peered deeply into the rubble and discovered I was in the Subaru. It had been in the garage below the kitchen. I exclaimed to my sister, “I am in the Subaru!” to which she replied, “I thought you knew that.” I looked around a bit, espying the remains of my stainless steel double kitchen sink sitting beside me and said, “I didn’t realize it, maybe it was the sink in the Subaru that threw me off.” We both laughed until we thought we would fall over in the ashes.

People have donated things to us to restart. One of the truly unexpected events is that people have brought us things that we had given them. Over the years we have done the “parent thing” and gone through the house looking for household items to help a young adult get their first apartment furnished. Some of these things are making their way back to us. I pulled out some silverware wrapped in a dish towel and found it was my old dishtowel given to me by my mom who has now passed on. It is a lowly thing, faded but whole. It made us feel more whole.

The sun has been shinning and the skies beautiful blue. It is hard not to see the beauty in that. Today we sifted. Sifting is just that, sifting through ashes that were your house. I was astonished at the amount of scrap metal that is in houses. A crew of men who were the extended family of our neighbors brought two trailers. They removed our metal roof and then together we dug treasure. I dug for refinements of my life and they dug for scrap metal. They even got down on their hands and knees and helped me sift through a large section of ash looking for an antique family diamond of little money but of sentimental value that we were going to make into a 35th anniversary ring for me. I suppose we will never find the diamond but I will always have in my heart the image of a crew of men I did not know on their hands and knees in the ashes of my house helping me sift through inch by inch.

I would never have chosen for our house to burn down. Nor would I have ever expected the outpouring of support we are experiencing. Each day is a new day with a new set of sorrows and joys. The joys make the day worth living and help us envision a long-term life in the future.



This post originally appeared on http://www.polyvore.com/sifting/set?id=528452821 and is edited for building1home.com.