In mid December 2008 we began one of the most scary journeys of our lives. With nothing more than plane tickets and the clothes on our backs, we boarded a plane bound for New Mexico. We lost all we owned due to toxic mold contamination, and on more than a few occasions I nearly lost my life due to allergic reactions to mold which landed me in intensive care with pneumonia.
New Mexico’s dry high desert climate allowed my body to heal. We did still encounter mold when we moved into a rental, which caused another bout of pneumonia, but I was healing, growing stronger, and most important- I was not dead.
My children suffered greatly watching me go through losing my hair, being debilitated neurologically, partial paralysis at times, losing all their cherished and precious belongings, and being uprooted and moved thousands of miles away from friends and extended family. We quickly acclimated to the high desert and began restoring our lives back from the brink of utter destruction.
Losing everything to toxic mold is like losing everything in a house fire, or another natural disaster. There were times when I felt it was worse, however. With a fire or disaster, belongings are undeniably ruined and unretrievable. When you need to burn or throw away everything you own or risk contaminating a new home, that’s where it hurts. Many well-intended people in our family wanted to hold onto our things for us, our children wanted their things entrusted to other family members, and it broke my heart to watch them relinquish things so precious to them only to throw it all in the dump.
Musical instruments, precious blankets, clothes with special memories, photos, artwork from when each of them were just learning how to hold a crayon…everything was now gone. The mold was so advanced that there was no way to even scan the artwork to save it digitally. The artwork and most of the photos were all devoured by toxic mold and rendered unrecognizable.
One of the first things I purchased when we moved here was a camera to start new memories. Having everything digital and stored away in a cloud or on a drive somewhere was incredibly important to me. 20 years of memories were wiped away and I vowed never to allow that to happen again.
Dom remained on the east coast at his job, and actively looked for work in NM. It would take months for him to finally be united with us.
We believe that Simone’s neurological disorders and food allergies stem from being exposed to toxic mold from the time she was born. Her earliest years were spent being shuttled from doctor to doctor, specialists, geneticists, allergists, and neurologists. She too began to heal.
Here in NM, she had therapists work with her. Noah and Shoshie were also beginning to physically heal. When we lived on the East coast they would get infections, one of them got sepsis, two were on inhalers, and they had reoccurring infections. Every week they were sick with some sort of illness.
Here in the high desert, we all continued to heal.
In 2010 we moved to our current home. It was a time of celebration, of renewal, and of victory. We rehabbed the house, transformed different parts of the property, and began to garden.
We have made so many beautiful new memories here, and we feel so amazingly blessed to have everything restored to us that was once lost. Mid-July of this year would have marked five years in our home.
I’m glad that we get to close this next chapter of our lives because of our calling to the agrarian life, and not because we are running from mold, a disaster, or anything else destructive. Our lives are whole, filled with love and support, and we are strengthened and renewed as the new chapter in our lives begins to unfold.
Our story is now just beginning! Yes, for five years this space has been where I’ve discussed our plans, our triumphs, our failures, our heartbreaks, and our joys. Last year we felt the sea was calling to us. It has been an odyssey of emotion and soul searching, uncovering what we truly desired in life, and opening our hearts and minds to receive that agrarian calling with open arms.
On Saturday, June 20, we will be driving cross country to our new home and life at Darthia Farm. It is a manifestation of all we have ever wanted in our lives, and it holds fast to our spirits, awakening and reviving deeper parts of our souls.