About a month ago, on May 15, 2018, something happened to me and my family that changed our lives. An act of God, apparently a “microburst,” tore through our front yard, and uprooted an approximately 19,000 pound tree. The tree fell into my 8 month old’s bedroom destroying the entire structure of our home.

My husband, with what I call divine intervention, told us to go downstairs immediately, minutes before the tree hit.  He was right behind us when the tree fell, only we made it down in time, he did not. He made his way into a corner of the kitchen and when he finally thought it was safe to move he made his way over to the sliding glass doors, down the deck steps, and saw us below through the sliding glass doors of our first floor.

He told us to run to the Lodgek’s house which is across the street. The Lodgek family took us in like we were their own family. I will never ever be able to thank them enough, and our friendship, which was always strong, is now stronger from living through this together.

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I grabbed my two boys, who were both screaming and crying and shaking, and John followed with our dog. We all made it out of the house alive. I got to their house, handed Krista the baby, and dropped to my knees after seeing my house from a distance.

This was my childhood home. Our home. Our safe place. My parents worked super hard to buy this house when I was 8 years old. They made it into a masterpiece. Blood, sweat, tears and tons of money were put in to make it their dream home, and a wonderful place for my brother and I to grow up and make tons of memories. Proms, movie nights with friends, holidays, pool parties, graduations, communions, confirmations, the night before my wedding and wedding day, starting my own family all happened there.  

The memories, laughter, tears, fights, and love that was in the house is endless. I cry as I write this because I think, if those demolished walls could talk, they would have such beautiful and emotional things to say about our life there.

In 2012, my husband John and I bought the home from my parents and started OUR life there. We redid it top to bottom, and made it into our dream home. This is where Grayson, my first son, took his first steps. We brought both boys home here. Tons of sleepless nights and bottles were made here. Toys everywhere. Grayson’s artwork. It was my boys’ first home. This is where Grayson learned to love the water, and swam every single day since 6 months old here. This is the home where Preston rolled over for the first time a few days before the tree fell.

But we will be back. It may not be the house that was in our family since I was 8, but it is the land. It is the feeling of that space. It is our property that I love. Most importantly, it is the street and neighborhood. I cannot thank my neighbors enough for the outpouring of love that I am still receiving to this day. I am blessed and honored to be able to come back to this street someday, and I miss being there with you all, terribly.

I also have to thank the Fairfield Police Department, and especially the Fairfield Fire Department. All of you who were there that night, you are also our angels. Being a shoulder to cry on, letting us know how to move forward, and guiding us when we did not know how to think, we are forever grateful. Again, there are not enough words for what those men did for us and still continue to do.

They came back the next day and the next day, and helped us remove and find many valuable items. They risked their lives to grab our children’s baby books, and some clothes and other important items, and we will never ever forget that bravery and compassion you showed.

Along with my brother-in-law, and uncle, they risked their lives by crawling up into our destroyed attic to grab what they could. They saved my music boxes made for me by my pop-pop who is passed. They saved my wedding dress. They saved a few of my husband’s collector’s items that mean the world to him. All while risking their lives doing it.

To our friends and family….your phone calls, texts, coffee, gift cards, hugs, help with kids, etc. etc. we are beyond grateful. To our family who helped climb through the rubble and destruction to save some of our things, my heart bursts for you. My best friends, who thought for me when I could not think at all, and let me cry and cry on their shoulders. To my parents who in a heartbeat, changed their lifestyle and lives to take us in, and made us feel at home in their home. To the family that stopped by to see us and to the family that helped take the kids for a few hours to let us collect our thoughts.

Someone said to me, you are getting back what you give, Erica. And I want you ALL to know, that I would turn around and be there for ALL of you like you were for me, in a heartbeat.

When my best friends wanted to start a GoFundme page, I was hesitant, but the money we made is now helping us remove more trees, as well as replace tons of furniture, clothes, food, and other items that insurance cannot cover. To those of you who donated and sent us gifts...God bless you and thank you so much.

We are beyond overwhelmed with how generous and loving people are, and I wish I could find the right words to say. I feel that a thank you will never be enough. Every single person in our lives has helped us get to the place we are at, now a month later, and we are still continuing to receive outpourings of love and gifts and well wishes. I wish I could list every single person that has helped us get to this point, but the numbers are tremendous.

To my beloved Fairfield….you have shown us how important community and citizenship is. What an unbelievable amount of support this town has shown. I am proud to have grown up here, and cannot wait to be back. The people of Fairfield have been nothing but gracious and loving, and as fellow community members, we will be there for all of you if you ever need us. This is what our town is about. When the chips are down, Fairfield always pulls through.

Our lives have been forever changed by this, and losing “stuff” is sad, but what we have gained from this is indescribable. We know that we are blessed by God, and have so many angels in our lives. In heaven and on earth. We know that we’ve done something right because of how others have treated us during this time. We know that material things mean nothing, it is our lives and love for each other that counts.

We know that my boys’ daddy and my husband is the real Superman. My husband has always loved this superhero, and now he actually is one. He rubbed off on you babe, because you saved our lives.

We know what it is like to have priorities change, and how worrying about how big your house is, or what car you drive, means absolutely nothing. We know that God is good, and that with him, our family and friends, and our love, we can get through anything.

My favorite movie, Wizard of Oz, ironically is all about “home.” And as Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.” But I have also learned that home is truly where the heart is, and it is LOVE that makes a house a home.

I hope that anyone reading this will take away the lesson that material things do help make us who we are, and tie us to our memories and years and years of what we have worked for, but at the end of the day, being alive and loving each other is what truly matters, and we all have to keep the faith and remember what is important.

Audrey Hepburn once said,  “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” So hold on tight everyone, count your blessings, and remember just how powerful the human spirit really is.