Lori and Dan Neufeld
I had carved out an entire day to get this work done. Just me and my computer in our home office, working hard to create six thoughtful paragraphs, neatly organized and ready to mail to you, two church presentations and a chapel sermon were also on the go and I was trying desperately to keep the tabs in order. Lunch with Ashley was going to be the perfect way to take a break before putting on the finishing touches later in the afternoon. Ashley just turned 13 and has started attending Teen Drop-in, so I wanted to get to know her better and celebrate her birthday. We didn’t dive too deeply into conversation as we ate burgers and fries, but it was a good start and she expressed much gratitude as I dropped her back off at school.
A quick stop at ICYA and then I’d get back to typing, but walking into work I answered a call from an unknown number. Our home security company promptly informed me that multiple alarmed areas of our house were being triggered. In the 13 years that we’ve lived on Luxton, setting our alarm off with burnt toast, Christmas decorations falling down, and friends forgetting the code were all too common. But I knew this time was different. Kent, ICYA’s executive director, ran after me as I bolted for the van, and we sat in silence for the longest five minute drive I can remember. Everything looked normal from the front of the house, but 9-1-1 assured me that I should stay away until police arrived.
Minutes passed and we couldn’t wait any longer. A quick walk to the back yard revealed a wide open damaged door. We called out and Schneider barked, allowing me to breathe a small sigh of relief. Dan arrived and the guys charged in, baseball bats in hand. Assuring me that the house was clear, it was my turn to face the unknown. This was my home, but it felt so foreign.
I headed straight for the office, and to my disbelief, the computer was still there. The cameras were still there. My tools were still there. What was going on? I slowed my pace and soon noticed our drawers and closets wide open and random items lying on the floor, but next to nothing was missing. With emotions running high, I went into “go” mode, making lists of things that needed repair, phoning the insurance company and picked our things up off the ground. Dan kept watch at home while I searched hardware stores for a replacement door and made a mad dash for parent-teacher conferences. Life around us wasn’t going to stop while we picked up the pieces.
That night we were blessed by a contractor friend who graciously dropped everything to come and replace our door. I felt like I should help, or keep typing, or wash all the laundry that the intruder had messed with in my dresser, but all I could do was sit on the floor and watch. “It’s just stuff,” I kept telling myself, but material possessions were the last thing on my mind. My safety, my personal space and my time had been robbed from me and those things were far more precious than Dan’s wedding ring or my sunglasses. The next few days were a whirlwind of partially finished presentations, phone calls and sleepless nights. I knew it was all too much, but I didn’t feel as if I could stop. Others had gone through this experience and seemed to bounce back immediately, so why not I? Wasn’t this bound to happen eventually, considering where we live? Shouldn’t I have been ready? And wouldn’t pausing from the rest of life just allow more fear and apprehension to sink in?
I didn’t need to be reminded that God was there through all of this. I knew He was. The entire situation could have been so much worse without His hand of protection. I thank God every day for watching over us as we do life in the North End. It was clear that He wasn’t teaching me to add an extra lock to my back door that day, but rather a long list of other things that are slowly being revealed to me. As friends, family and coworkers have compassion me; I continue to have compassion for whomever it was that set foot into my home. You’ve got to live a tough life to get to that place. I’m sure their intension wasn’t to scare me, but simply to feed their family or their addiction for one more day.
It’s ten days later and I’ve carved out another full day to complete this letter. The rough draft seemed far too light and fluffy for the reality of the times and was discarded for the harder truth. My door is locked, the alarm is on and every noise outside makes me flinch. I keep telling myself to get over it, but then I’m reminded how fresh this event still is and that my response is normal. It’s also in our thoughts to reconsider placing gifts under our tree, to opt for security cameras instead of Christmas lights and to take a second look outside before going to bed. Healing will come with time and by the grace of God.
To those of you going into this Christmas season with some apprehension or fear, I feel you. If you’re experiencing loss or grief in any way, I’m hurting too. And if you’re praying for a little extra joy or a glimpse of hope to end 2018, I’m praying for it also.
From our home in the North End to wherever you may be, Dan, Finley and I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Thanks for your prayers and support.