Over the course of the next several months, PURE Member Advocate® Joan Smith stepped in to help Brett and Natasha navigate the complexities of rebuilding and getting back to normal, lining up temporary living accommodations and furniture, managing contractors and schedules, continually driving the process forward and even turning up unexpectedly with replacement computers and other odds and ends. But it was the moral support that she offered that made the most difference. “She was always a shoulder to lean on,” says Brett.
“Who’d have thought these people from your insurance company would come into your life, that you would be sitting at a lovely restaurant having dinner with them? Who experiences that in their lives? No one ever does.”
Joan also drew on the PURE community, connecting Brett and Natasha with another couple in Chicago who suffered a house fire, Tom Stringer and Scott Waller—members since 2014. The couple had just renovated their meticulously designed brownstone when a fire nearly destroyed it just before Christmas in 2016. Brett says talking to other members who’d been through something similar was invaluable.
“Having been in our shoes, they helped us understand what the path ahead looked like and what we needed to think about and to ask. They invited us into their newly restored home and for the first time I thought ‘Okay, things are finally coming into focus,’” says Brett. “I finally felt confident that we were going to get back to a good place.”
In November 2019, nearly two years after the fire, the work on their home was finally complete. Looking back on the experience, Brett and Natasha agree that it brought their family closer together. “It sounds funny to say that it was nice to have Brett’s family here, to go through such a traumatic event together like that, but it really was. It meant that we were not alone.”
She says the experience also reminded her of her own capacity to find joy even in pain and loss. “Trauma is from the Greek word for wound,” she says, “and the poet Rumi wrote, ‘The wound is the place the light enters you.’”