The Bad News

To: Andi O’Conor
Monday, September 6th, 2010
Subject: are you home?

3:05 PM, Kathy wrote:

Hi Andi,
Just heard about the fire on 4-mile canyon and wondering if you are home, or still out of town.  Hope everything is OK with you and your house.



Subject: Re: are you home?
3:36 PM

Hi There,
Nope, I’m in Washington. Wow, a fire on Four-Mile? That’s scary.  Sugarloaf is one canyon over, but that’s really close.

At least I have the dog, the computer, and my birth certificate with me!  All the important stuff.

Thanks for thinking of me.  I leave tomorrow and get home the 15th. Will put some white light around the house…

If you get any updates, I’d really appreciate hearing about it.  Thanks!

Take good care,


at 6:06 PM, Andrea Meyer wrote:

Hi Andi,
Wanted to let you know of a fire that may be headed toward your house.  They are evacuating various areas. The continuous updates are at:

I know you’re not home so you’re safe, but wanted to let you know just in case.

Best wishes,


10:15 PM MDT

Hi Andrea,
The house at the top of my driveway was destroyed, so things look grim. Won’t know for another day, but please keep me in your thoughts. Will be a miracle if I still have a house.



10:38 PM MDT

Hi Friends,
I’ve heard from neighbors that the house at the top of my driveway on Sugarloaf is gone, so I’m not sure what the chances are that mine is still there.  Nellie the Dog and I are safe in Washington State; we head for home (I hope it’s still there) tomorrow morning.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.  I love my house and hope it survives by some miracle, though it is apparently in the belly of the beast.

Stay safe and send good thoughts,


Tuesday, September 7, 2010
8:39 AM MDT

This is nerve wracking; like waiting to hear if a loved one is dead or alive…still no word but it looks bad…



9:25:07 PM MDT

Hi Guys,
I just rolled into Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and am frankly done in.  Been on the phone all day while I drove, and the news is sounding not very good from our local firefighters.

We are supposed to hear tonight about the addresses of destroyed structures, so fingers crossed. I am devastated that my entire mountainside is ravaged, and hope there is something left of the house. But I’m also trying to be mentally prepared for the worst.

I have a shorter drive into Bozeman tomorrow, and will be back in the loop then. Frankly, the distraction from all this will be a welcome change. Right now I have a smashing headache and just feel like crying. A bath and a long sleep cuddled up with my Nellie dog will do me a world of good.

Thank you for your kind thoughts.  This waiting is really difficult.  I wish we could just get some clear news, but I understand they’re still fighting the fire. So, right now we wait.

Many thanks for the hugs and for your overall wonderfulness!


9:36:24 PM MDT

My house is gone; burned down to the foundation.  Could you let everyone know? I can’t bear it.

Don’t even know what to feel…


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21 Responses to The Bad News

  1. Concetta says:

    I am so touched by your honesty and bravery. And I imagine you might say: How can I not be? As you said in one post, you can’t let the truth stay inside. The truth is also that the more you say ‘it’…the reality of what you and others are feeling…you show us all how uncomfortable BUT necessary it is to be exactly where we are with our grief, anger, sadness, joy, etc. I want to wrap my arms around you and Nellie and really, really make it all better! Some of that is genuine caring and a piece of that is my own need to get away from my squishy, tender, uncontrollable feelings of grief and loss. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this with us. And thanks to Heather for sharing the link. I’m surrounding you with Light and Hope and a big dose of may you see your way clear through to each next step!


    • Andi says:

      Thank you Concetta, so glad you like the writing and the blog. I love what you said about giving comfort both to others and yourself. I struggle to stay in touch with what others are feeling through this experience as well – that they have their own grief and sadness and anger FOR me, and feel frustrated at times as well.

      For me it is important to also keep giving at this time – to pass along the love and generosity that is handed to me so lovingly each day.

      Thanks again for your words, Andi

  2. Bryan Boellke says:

    I can’t even begin to imagine how hard and stressful this must be. I know my house was hit by lightening once, and that was a pain to replace and fix everything, but to completely lose everything. I am very impressed by your bravery. I hope everything works out for you.

    • Andi says:

      Hi Bryan,

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Your words mean a lot, and are comforting.

      Take Good Care,


  3. La'Toya says:

    I cant Imagine how hard it was to lose everything because I’ve never been faced with the situation but my heart goes out to you. You are a soilder to be able to start over from stratch. The good things are you have your dog, and like you said your birth certificate, the important things, but most importantly, your life and that is a blessing from God. Hope all is well and I keep you in my prayers.

    • Andi says:

      Hi La Toya,
      Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. I’m always amazed at the kindness of strangers – people like you who don’t know me but who take the time to write and to wish me well.

      I’m sending you blessings, and thanks so much for reading,


  4. Deborah Byrd says:

    Andi, How pleasant it was to meet you and Nellie, the kissing pup, today while walking in the alley of where you’re living in Boulder. Yes, the gardenia further down the dirt road smelled lovely; that pleasant stop and your conversation about the Four Mile Canyon Fire remained with me on my walk home. The trauma of all those who lost their homes and life treasures is tragic and longlasting. I admire your work in making this life-changing event available to all of us in the Boulder community through your poetry and essays.

  5. I have just started a blog about my experiences after having a house fire in May: Rebuilding house and life after a fire. I live in Austin, and it was caused by a gas leak when my 20-year old son was home alone. I, too, am single and while I agree that no one with friends is truly alone, it is overwhelming to dealwith the aftermath of a fire as the only head of household. I look forward to exploring your blog.

  6. Laura says:

    We lost our home February 1, 2010 and are still struggling emotionally and financially. I wept when I read your July 5th post because I can totally relate. I have a 12 and 14 year old and a similar experience happened to us while driving home one evening. The boys were shouting, “Mom, hurry! What if its our house?” Total and complete paniac were in their vocies and I couldn’t help but feel the same way. I am a teacher too and had an enormous amount of help from people at my school and really don’t know what we would have done without it. Unfortunately the insurance has been another story, and, a year and a half later, we are still dealing with issues. I just wanted to say thank you and to let you know that your blog helped me. It is hard to explain to people all the damage a fire causes to you in so many other ways than the loss of the things in your home. I have had some days that I still feel completely overwhelmed with sadness, fear and anger. Unfortunately I have had some friends and even family members not understand and just decide to shut me out. It is and eye opener, an experience like this. It lets you see who truly cares and is there for you. That is a gift most people don’t get to see. All the best to you and keep it coming. It is a comfort to those of us that have been there. Take care.

  7. monique hersh says:

    This brings tears to my eyes…similar situation, lost house and contents to fire Feb. 18th, 2010. Was on the road in rush hour traffic when I heard the news. By the time I reached home the house was gone, along with six family pets. I so understand your last line “don’t even know what to feel”. Weeks followed with friends, family and strangers asking how they could help. I never could give them an answer. I never know what to say. One day some friends drove up the driveway and the husband emerged from the car with a huge pot of blooming pansies. I sobbed. His wife sobbed. She wouldn’t leave until I agreed to let her get some linens and towels for us. I sometimes felt as if I was the one trying to comfort them, so great was their grief and compassion for us. I soon learned to say, “We’re okay. Getting through it day by day.”

  8. Sharon Scanlan says:

    Hello, Andi,
    Well, unfortunately, there are quite a few of us in this very undesirable “club”; my husband and I lost our home in Conifer Mar 26, along w/ 22 other homes, and 3 deaths. (the Lower North Fork Fire, which was started and not monitored for 36 hrs by the Co State Forest Ser.) It’s not a process anyone can understand unless he or she has experienced it, but I know you will see the beautiful side of humanity during this painful period. So many strangers have reached out to help and it is touching, humbling, and most encouraging. I would be happy to speak w/ you or email you any time. And it’s ok to NOT feel or act brave and strong all the time–honor the tears and the anger and the sadness as well. We have still not done the demo on our property (35 acres of black sticks, custom home, barn, tractor barn)…although it will be soon. Sometimes when I’ve been at the site alone, I’ve just grabbed a piece of twisted steel and pounded whatever is in front of me, crying or yelling! (no one’s around, so it’s ok!) And it helps! I was fortunate to get my dog, 2 horses and 3 birds out and we WILL move forward with our lives. Please take care of you. Many blessings.

  9. Dearest Andi says:

    I read your blog and emails as part of my psychology class while visiting California this week for my sister’s funeral service. I can sincerely empathize with your feeling of sorrow and loss. Reading your experiences of loss and the comments from friends brought tears to my eyes as I feel the agonizing emotional pain in the inner depths of my being. May you find peace and strength through the kind and encouraging words of friends and strangers alike. God bless you and keep you strong and steadfast as you move forward in life. We love you. Ernie and Family.

    • Andi says:

      Hi Ernie, Thank you so much for writing. Your message touched me so deeply that it inspired me to write a new post and include your note. Much love and many blessings to you and yours, Andi

  10. Amber says:

    Hi Andi,
    I was also reading your blog for Jim Pisarowicz’s Psychology class. I think what you have done with this blog is absolutly amazing. You have made a support group for others involved, encourage those who have experienced a house loss, and enspired many with your strength. I can not put my self in your shoes but I can tell you are a special person. Keep passing on hope and strength.

  11. Tina says:

    Dear Andi,
    My name is Tina Parker. I am a student of Professor Jim P. He had us to read this blog about your story of your house burning down not once but twice. Eventhough it has been almost four years, I imagine it still hurts. I think that it’s tragic that you lost everything when you was only twelve and then again in 2010. Thank God that you was not home either time. You are an amazing woman to overcome such a tragedy. I’m so sorry that you lost everything you had. A positive side is that you are still alive and so is your dog. I can’t begin to tell you I know how you feel or what you went through because I don’t. I’m glad that you was able to overcome your tragedy and rebuild your life. The tragedy just made you a stronger woman. The story was very heartbreaking. You are truly an amazing, smart, and very strong person.

    • Andi says:

      Thank You Tina, for your kind words. I’m so glad reading it was meaningful for you, and best of luck in Jim’s class.

  12. Becky Hansen says:


    I am a student of Jim’s at SCC your blog is absolutely touching. You are an extremely strong and amazing women.

  13. Jennifer Montin says:

    Our home burned to the ground in a wild fire on February 6th, 2015, along with 39 others. My daughter, away at graduate school, sent me the link to your blog 4 days after the fire. I have not looked at it until tonight. We are beyond the fuzzy first days, and I think that we are doing okay – well pretty much okay – but there are times in each day when we feel a darkness come over us. The personal property ordeal of itemizing each paperclip is insult to injury. And I do seriously want to scream when someone tells me “It’s just stuff.” You know, I don’t think I’d feel so sad if it were “just stuff.” I hope to gather some strength and insight by reading more here. Thank you.

  14. Cori Shaw says:


    I’ve read your blog for Jim’s class as well. I like that you created a blog to deal with your house burning down. I can see how it would be tough to deal with losing all of your memories in the house, including the house itself. I’m glad that you found a way to cope with this that also helped other people cope as well.

  15. nia parks says:

    I am a student of james this is absolutely touching .

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