Then we found the post we had been searching for. There was a man who had posted pictures on Silverbell Lane. There was a picture of our neighbor's house, a beautiful log home, completely burned. We now know that this neighbor is Carol, and we are looking forward to meeting her in person soon. Many good things have come from this fire, including building friendships with people that have experienced the same thing as us. In some ways, we felt disconnected when we moved here. Now we feel more at home than ever. It's all part of God's plan!
After seeing the pictures of Carol's house, we searched and found pictures of other burned properties on our road and the two roads above us. Still no 230 Silverbell Lane. This gave us even more hope. This gentleman was only taking pictures of burned properties, so perhaps our treehouse was in the clear! We sent him a message, asking him if he could recall any information about our house. Then we waited and prayed.
It seemed like days before we got a response, but it was probably only an hour or so. The gentleman rememebered standing in our driveway to take the picture of Carol's house. He thought he remembered turning around and seeing a burnt vehicle at the top of the driveway, with the remains of a house still smoking behind it, but he wasn't 100% sure. That was like a punch in the gut. I cried myself to sleep that night, thinking about all of the memories in the house that we could not get back. My wedding dress, Brett and Talan's deer mounts, my necklace that had a diamond from my Grandma Velma in it, the only picture I had of me and my brother before he died, my scrapbooks detailing every memory from before Brett and I were married to our decision to move down here, and so much more. It was surreal to think that all of that was gone. Talan cried right alongside me. Not because he was sad about losing stuff, but because he felt sad for me. I have always called him my tenderhearted one, and in this moment, he definitely was that.
Tuesday night went by in the blink of an eye, and when we woke up on Wednesday, we decided that we were not going to be sad. We talked about how we still had memories and that we were blessed to still be alive. Even though we weren't positive our house was gone, we were going to accept that it was. We had grieved enough Tuesday night, so we decided we would put our trust in God and know that He would help us through this if we found out that we had, indeed, lost our house.
To keep our minds off of things, we decided to go to the Rescue Mission that had been set up in Sevierville. The kids and Brett each had a few extra outfits, but I had only two shirts and no shoes. I had left the house wearing just my slippers. My friends will tell you this is not out of the ordinary. When they all came down a few weeks before Thanksgiving, I accidentally wore my slippers for a full day of shopping at the outlets and evening at the Island. In fact, I'm wearing them right now! 😁 Think about how many pairs of shoes you have. Now think about losing them all. That's how I felt!
My beautiful friends and family when they visited in November
Our experience at the Rescue Mission was very humbling. People had already donated tons and tons of clothes. Unfortunately, some people do not think that other people may not want to wear dirty and ratty clothes that should have been put in the trash. There were many volunteers sorting through all of the clothing and putting out what was suitable for people to wear. In my little mind, I thought we would be back at our house soon enough, so we would only need a few things each. I didn't want to take away from the people who needed it, so I searched for specific items and sizes. Meanwhile, there were people loading up garbage bag after garbage bag of clothing, not checking sizes on anything. There was one family who had filled the entire back of a pick-up with bags of clothing and water. I felt so bad taking away from these people who obviously had so little to begin with. We left with a pair of shoes for me, a few items of clothing for each of us, a bag of hygiene products that I was thrilled to have and two cases of water (only because a volunteer insisted we take it 😊). Ahhhh, the water. This is a funny subject. For some reason, people think when there is a disaster you need water. There were probably millions of cases donated. We still see pallets of water when driving around Sevier County. It's everywhere. Lol It was wonderful to see that people wanted to help, though, regardless of what the help was. Now we know in the future to find out the need before we just start sending stuff. 😊
After we left the Rescue Mission, Brett planned to go to the house with Isaac, our contractor who had remodeled our house for us. We had heard they were letting people in with ID to survey their property. I dropped Brett off to meet Isaac and headed back to the hotel. It was at this time that I got a call from Ashley. Ashley works for Cabins for You, the rental company we had our house, formerly known as Emily's Joy, with when it was on the rental program. We had talked to Ashley several times in the past, and she was always so helpful when we were renting out Emily's Joy. I was not surprised to hear from her, as she had already called us once to see if we were okay and if we needed anything. As I answered the phone, I could tell in her voice that she was upset, and she cried as she told me that they had someone checking on their cabins and Emily's Joy was gone. It hit me like a ton of bricks, but I am so grateful for her calling me. I then got to tell Brett instead of him seeing it first. That was, somehow, easier. It turned out that he was not able to even get into Gatlinburg that day. It was Friday before we were allowed in with ID. That would have been two more days of the unknown. I am so thankful that God brought Ashley into our lives. We have since met and had dinner together just the other night. Her office is based out of Georgia but we would love for her and her family to move up here! 😁 She told us that she had to make many calls to property owners that day, but ours was the hardest, knowing it was not a rental but our home. This is just another example of good that has come from evil.
After I hung up with Ashley, I started to break down a little. Then Talan reminded me "Remember, Mom? We aren't going to be sad anymore. We already knew our house was gone." He was exactly right. It was time to move forward and continue putting our faith in God.