In ancient mythology, the Phoenix is a mythical bird with fiery plumage and a benevolent fire spirit that rises from the ashes of its former life, more beautiful than it was before.
“This is how we feel,” Andrew Titus said. “But we only feel that way because of the love and support we have received from others. [From] family, friends and strangers.”
Two weeks ago Titus updated his Facebook status: “Today we lost our house, our stuff and, worst, our Poette, but we still seem to have some humour and some solid spirit… kids are the very best. Today some horrible stuff happened, but we have seen the best of our friends and neighbours. Thanks everyone. A lot.”
That Sunday morning Titus went out for breakfast with his wife and kids, but on their return all they saw was chaos.
“I thought ‘it doesn’t look that bad’, but looks can be very deceiving,” Titus said.
Somehow, the engine inside the dryer ceased trying to restart and, without any noise, it sparked, setting fire to the rest of the house.
Titus said all he thought about was his dog, Poette, who was inside the house.
“I confirmed material possessions are nothing and the only important is to have those you love,” he said.
Then, the fire fighters brought Poette’s body out in their arms.
“It was overwhelming,” Titus said. “I was thrown into the unknown.”
Titus decided to bury the beloved family member in the backyard of his decimated house.
“It was a powerful, horrible but significant moment full of conflicting feelings,” Titus said. “My friend Chris McCormick was friend enough to help me bury her and man enough to share some tears in the rain with the smouldering house behind me.”
The cavalry arrived
Andrew Titus said being a poet does not necessarily have to do with writing poetry, but with looking inside the self and seeing beyond meaning. He said the chaos forced a new cycle of the hero in which he was able to return to. He said he was able to do this because of the overwhelming help of hundreds of heroes and mentors from around his excellent community.
Right after Titus called the insurance company, Mike and Mary Davis, owners of The Radical Edge, offered Titus’ family a place to stay. Meanwhile Trudy Gallagher and Troy Johnston organized everyone to find everything his family needed to relocate.
“When I asked [Johnston] what I was supposed to do now, he said that now we close ranks and call in the cavalry,” Titus said.
The following Friday, a bunch of people, including family, friends and strangers, arrived to the house to help Titus and his family clean their new home.
The runners, bicyclers and health community were there, encouraging the family through the extreme situation.
“It was really amazing to see a larger community driving to get all the things we needed,” he said.
From nine in the morning to four in the afternoon, people showed up with beds, towels, dishes, televisions and a lot of support.
“There were around 120 mentors and heroes helping us through, and they kept coming,” he said.
On Sept. 3, the runners’ community organized a barbecue fundraiser. When he went out with his team for a run they found 25 more runners in the woods as well as another 25 bikers willing to help support the cause.
“Close to 100 people all gathered together to help me out, it was heart warming,” he said.
Titus said through the tragedy he confirmed what he already believed about the kindness of people.
“They’re fundamentally good,” Titus said. “After this extreme situation, I believe in the essential goodness of humanity so much more.”
Titus said his perspective as a poet gave him the opportunity to observe and find significance in the extreme event. He confirmed what he already knew about what is truly important in the world.
“These extreme events give you the opportunity to understand what’s really valid and to learn how to accept and value the help from others,” Titus said.
“It is hard to describe, truly,” he said. “This, perhaps, is where being a poet comes in most handy, because I know and believe that as the experience distills. As we all grow and the seeds of the compassion I have witnessed coming from others grows into a full appreciation for the inherent goodness of others, I will find words for it. Until then, all I can really say is a tear-filled, sincere, broad smiling ‘thank you’.”