|Photo by Nate Adams/Montville Patch|
This morning I woke up early to prepare my kids for their first day back at school. With hot coffee in one hand and the other on my laptop, I scrolled through my email like I do every morning. However, instead of spam, PR pitches, or comments from my blog, the first email I opened was from a fellow food blogging friend. Her message read, "What can we do for Erika....I feel like those of us at BSP (Big Summer Potluck) need to unite and help." My initial response to this email was confusion. Being a West Coast person I often wake up when everyone else on the East Coast has been up for hours. Immediately I turned to Twitter to read @IvoryHut 's feed only to read her tweet,
"Our house burned down last night. Barely made it out alive. Homeless, posession-less. But we're all safe & together. Still richly blessed."
Now I don't know about you, but if my house just burned down to a crisp, I'm not sure if I would be as calm, cool, and collective as Erika. My heart sunk as I began to cry and all I could do is think about my friend and the hell she must be going through.
I know she has limited access to a computer. She and her family is staying with a friend with a computer and managed to post this entry on her blog.
Last night, my head was preoccupied with last minute work on a special project and putting the finishing touches on a post. My husband Tom and I had also been discussing the logistics of possibly attending BlogHer Food 2010 in San Francisco. These were the things that weighed on my mind.
A mere hour or so later—and instant, really—we were outside, in our shirts and shorts, watching our house crumble as it was engulfed in flames. I’ll never forget that hissing and crackling noise as my husband’s home of almost 30 years practically disintegrated before our eyes.
But we were safe. All of us. Our son Tim, without hesitation, ran back inside when he realized his grandmother was sleeping upstairs. By the time he got to her, it was too late to try and exit the house the same way he came in. Fortunately, Tom had devised a fire escape plan years ago, and Tim was able to bodily carry his feeble 82-year-old grandmother out the window, onto the roof, and eventually down on the deck. The sight of this brave son of mine carrying his grandmother as he ran down the lawn and away from the house is one I will never forget.
Obviously, none of us slept last night. We are fortunate to belong to a congregation that is as close to us as family, and one of our dear friends drove to our house last night to pick us up and take us to her home, which is where I sit right now, typing this.
The magnitude of the loss is almost too much to comprehend in its entirety. So last night, I mentally walked through all the rooms in the house, taking stock of what was valuable in that room, and then systematically making peace with the loss. I said goodbye to my new MacBook Pro, my 500GB drive of photographs, another 500GB drive of music files. My purse, with all my identification cards, and all the car keys—car keys that are useless anyway, since the flames have likely taken our cars too. Our passports and birth certificates. My husband’s prosthetic leg, without which he is unable to freely move around. Our shoes, all our clothes, and our musical equipment. My engagement ring and my wedding ring, and a gold bracelet passed on to me by my mother on my wedding day.
My baby pictures, which are the only remaining proof that once upon a time, I was actually cute. My iPod Touch, the value of which is immeasurable because it held all my half-finished songs, poems, and writings.
But when I weigh it all against the value of being able to hold my husband’s hand and my son’s hand last night as we said a family prayer of thanks for our survival, as well as a petition for strength to deal with the days to come, and the fact that this morning, I woke up to a day with both of them still with me, then I still think I got the better end of the deal.
Oh, and I’m sorry there are no photos in this post. You see, my beloved Canon 5D and all those lenses I had? They’re gone too.
Which stings, I’ll admit. But all I have to do is throw a glance my family’s way and yep, I’m still blessed.
|Photo by Nate Adams/Montvilel Patch|
Many people in the food blogging community who dearly love Erika or people who have heard about this devastating fire have approached Erika's friends on how they can help. Maggy Keet of Three Many Cooks and I (Savory Sweet Life) spent the morning coming up with ideas of how best to support our friend in her greatest time of need.
After going to the bank, I discovered it would be harder to open up a benevolence fund on her behalf without getting attorneys involved. And after speaking with other people who know Erika very well, we collectively decided that what she needs right now is cash to buy basic necessities until all of this can be sorted out. When she says she has nothing, she means it. In her email to me she jokingly tells me she is the best dressed person in her family because she is the only one with shoes on her feet.
Maggy, one of Erika's closest friends, and I have been on and off the phone all morning and she is also very heartbroken over this tragic event. Together we decided to start this site as a way to help Erika.
Because people have asked how they can help, we've come up with a temporary way to assist Erika quickly. We are accepting donations to help Erika immediately through Paypal. Maggy only lives one hour away and will take all the money donated and drive it over to where Erika is staying. She has no access to a bank because all of her identification was burned in the fire. Currently she is working with the police, fire department, and insurance people to sort through everything.
If you have been moved to compassion to help our dear friend, fellow blogger, and all-around great person... Please consider donating via Paypal.
If you would prefer to send donations in the form of checks or gift cards to places such as Walmart or Target, please mail them to:
354 East 91st St #2004
NY, NY 10128
Feel free to use Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter to get the word out. This is about community and helping one of our own. If you feel moved to write a blog post, we invite you to do so. If you would like to send a note of encouragement, please feel free to leave a comment on her original post here. I'm sure she would love to hear from you.
In An Instant Erika's post from The Ivory Hut
I encourage you to give as you feel comfortable. Every little bit helps.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Our thoughts and prayers are with Erika and her family at this devastating time.
Alice and Maggy
Erika's Twitter Handle: @IvoryHut
Twitter Hashtag for getting the word out: #FriendsOfErika
Here is a link to more video and photos of the fire last night by Nate Adams of the Montville Patch