When It Rains…It Pours
The last year has been rough for the Finn family. As you guys know, Finn and I have spent over a year trying to start a family and it’s been a challenge. I suffered a chemical pregnancy, followed by a miscarriage, followed by multiple surgeries. We looked at 2019 as a chance to start fresh and leave all of the negative energy of 2018 behind us.
I then spent most of January with severe sinus and ear infections, along with some nasty bronchitis. I’m on my second round of steroids and antibiotics and I’m finally starting to feel a little better (fingers crossed this sickness gets outta here for good!).
Just last week, Finn and I said to one another, “Okay, now it’s time to start fresh. February 2019…let’s do this!”
The Latest Life Curveball
But life threw another curveball our way. Last weekend, we got a call from our storage facility saying they had a few pipes burst in the building affecting storage units on multiple levels. They asked if we could come and check things out and make sure our stuff was okay. We honestly didn’t even give it much thought. We figured out of the hundreds of units, ours hopefully wouldn’t be one of the ones that got damaged.
We arrived ready for a quick inspection and then planned to get back to our latest DIY project (our fireplace makeover, more details coming soon). Unfortunately, our unit was severely impacted. The company said the basement had 3-6 feet (!!!) of water in it that they had to drain out. We opened up our unit and were horrified at what we found.
But before we get to that, let me tell you what we had stored in there…
Saving our Childhood Memories
Since we live in a small condo, we store all of the random items that we rarely need in our storage unit. Christmas decorations, patio furniture, and DIY supplies make up some of our possessions there. But a big portion of our stuff comes from the sentimental items we both saved from our childhoods, along with a few key pieces from our wedding (like my wedding dress). Our moms have both moved to smaller places and when they left our childhood homes, we each went through our stuff and pared it down to the most precious items we wanted to save.
I remember going through all of the pictures, yearbooks, papers, and class projects and honing it down to the “best of the best” to keep and store on my own. I also saved a few dolls from my childhood in hopes that I would someday give them to my own daughter. Finn and I each had a few plastic bins of our personal possessions stored away in our storage unit. Items that we certainly didn’t need to have access to on a daily basis, but items we never wanted to part with and wanted to pass down to our kids someday.
Our Flooded Storage Unit
At first glance, it was hard to tell how much damage was done to our storage unit. But after a couple minutes of sifting, we realized how extensive the damage truly was. About 90% of our stuff was dirty and wet. I immediately put on a brave face and thought to myself…it’s just stuff that we probably don’t need anyway. Who cares if we need to buy a new Christmas tree? Finn and I went through the patio furniture and Christmas decor quickly and didn’t bat an eye. Of course, it wasn’t an ideal situation, but we could certainly replace most of those items and we had insurance to help with the cost.
But when we got to our tubs of childhood belongings, we both lost it.
Even though we had all of our childhood mementos neatly packed away in plastic bins, the water got so high that it went directly into them. Most of the tubs were filled with water when we found them and we had to put our hands into the gross water to dig anything out. My school yearbooks were completely waterlogged, photo albums were drenched, and the ink on old journals was running. After taking so much time to hand-select the items we wanted to save forever, they were gone in an instant. And there was no replacing these priceless mementos.
My Wedding Dress
The hardest item I came across was my wedding dress. We had it cleaned and stored away so nicely, but I came upon the box and it was soaking. I tore open the box to find my wedding dress soggy and wet. It was still sparkling, but it smelled and looked incredibly dirty. I cried.
Finn came over to me, gave me a hug, and said that it’s better to have a ruined wedding dress than a ruined marriage. And in that instant, I decided to see things differently.
Changing My Perspective
Sure, we lost a lot of stuff…but it was just that STUFF. I had my husband right next to me and a warm home to return to. Of course, I didn’t want to lose all of my childhood possessions, but just because the stuff was gone doesn’t mean the memories are gone. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to see this shitty situation with rose colored glasses. I would have been sad and angry for days! But after losing our baby and loosening my grip on controlling my life, I’ve gained so much perspective on the things that matter most to me. My husband matters. My family matters. My relationships matter. Christmas decorations don’t matter. Golf clubs don’t matter. A wedding dress doesn’t matter.
I could get angry that our childhood mementos were trashed, but that wasn’t going to instantly make them dry again. The only thing I could control was my attitude on the situation, and at that moment hugging Finn I chose to see things in a new light.
We immediately started figuring out what was dry and what we could save. We took photos of photos and newspaper clippings. Finn mentioned that he saved a lot of his high school basketball newspaper articles to someday show our kids. But he joked that our kids probably wouldn’t even care to ever look at them, and now he could tell them grandiose stories of how those games went down instead of reading silly articles to them. That made my heart happy (and also made me laugh). We ended up saving a few plastic tubs of items that didn’t get wet, including our Christmas ornaments (they were on top and I’m thrilled they are okay!) and a few random childhood items. My mom ended up taking my wedding dress to a cleaner and we’re hopeful they’ll be able to salvage it.
The Universe Has Our Back
In last week’s post, I chatted about how I’m doing my best to loosen my grip and stop controlling things. I was definitely tested with this latest challenge to choose love over fear. And I think I did a pretty good job. I’m still holding onto the idea that the Universe has our back. Yes, it’s been a hellish few months for us and we can’t seem to catch a break. But I believe that there are good things ahead. There has to be! There’s still plenty of 2019 left and Finn and I are here and ready for blessings to come our way.
My mom keeps saying to me, “It gets darkest before the dawn” and we all know moms are right about everything. Things have been pretty dark for us lately, but I think the dawn is coming. And when it does, I’m here and ready for it.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.