What is Normal?

Last week, Red Cross Volunteers in the Southern Missouri Region, helped 39 people after fire destroyed their homes and took their “normal.” Every day a child loses his or her normal because of a fire. I remember when my daughters went through this loss of normal and how traumatic it was to them as young children.

In 2004 my daughters were at their dad’s house for a weekend visit. He had taken them to school that Monday morning and gone on to work. Thankfully they were not there when the house caught fire, due to faulty wiring, and burnt to the ground. They were all safe and sound, but they had lost their normal.

They had lost the special place that they spent time with their dad, the special things he had for them at his house, and the routine of being able to spend time with him each weekend. The littlest angel was 5 and the loss of Clifford, her big red stuffed dog, is something that she still remembers at the age of 13. The pictures they had of them with their dad and the memories those held are all gone. The special gifts and drawings they had made him are part of a memory now.

Time passed and the girls’ Dad moved to a new place several miles outside of the school district. Gone were the long weekends when dad would take them to school and their scheduled time with him was forever affected by the fire. Though it seems like a small thing, it was a change to the normal that they once had and finding a new normal was a process.They are now 13, 16 and 19 and have recovered from the trauma of that loss, though when they share memories, they are forever prefaced with either ” before the fire at dad’s” or “after the fire at dad’s” and that is normal to them now.

The American Red Cross provides tools for finding a new normal. Providing for emergency needs like shelter, food and clothes immediately after a fire and then a case worker to work with each family for resources to help them back on their feet. It is through the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors that hope is provided every day.

Story and photo by: Nigel Holderby

You can help people affected by disasters like fires, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
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