Aisling Gordon knows all too well what living with MICA is like. Like hundreds of others across Donegal, her family home in Letterkenny has been plagued by the ‘disease’ in the blocks of her house.
Here she writes form the heart about the agony of waiting for a solution and one day being able to call her house a home.
For a while now I’ve felt drawn to write around my heartfelt experience of living in a mica affected home. It will be a release as such, for me, and from me. A release, in part at least, of some of the grief I carry in my heart at the loss of my feeling of being at home in my home. And in another way, a release of knowledge and understanding, offered to those whose hearts and homes are not affected. This experience has somewhat of a lottery feel to it. Who chose it? Noone. Who has fallen victim to it? Random home seekers. They invested. Their hearts, their minds, their courage, their excitement, their time, their savings, their trust, their gut feelings, their hopes, their dreams. Their futures, their presence. Their family lives. They say home is where the heart is. A haven to retreat to. To rest, to heal, to gather, to love, to live, to breathe. Home. I miss it.
There’s a blow that is dealt with the news that your house has been built with mica blocks. The news lands deep in the pit of your stomach like a fell swoop from a large fist. It hits hard, your mental comprehension of what news has just been delivered coming slowly, yet oh so surely, behind the physical blow. Something shifts inside you, something irreversible. The significance of the scale of the problem begins to seep in, little by little, moment by moment. You can’t quite grasp it, this blow. This makes no sense. At all. Yet it’s happening. Here, now, in your home, in your heart. It’s not quite tangible, yet you see it. You feel it. It’s etched in your heart, the shock. It’s written in your walls. You see them now, the cracks. In a different way. You’ve often noticed them, casting an eye in their direction while carrying out some menial household task. Pouring the kids cereal, the subtlest feeling of dis-ease stirs. What’s going on in my gut? Is this normal, this subtle yet growing cracking? What else could it be, but normal? There’s nothing but normal to consider. You did the survey. You bought new. You chose wisely and didn’t rush in. You took all the recommended steps. And yet, something’s not right. Now, the wondering turns to knowing. Now, you miss the wondering, the ignorance, the pre-knowing. Now it is confirmed. Something is very very wrong.
The news brings with it a shroud of heaviness that weighs in your heart and head. Because of the very nature of the devastating news, you find yourself and your family quite literally surrounded by the gravity of the situation. The very fabric of your home is infected. A reporter refers to it as a cancer in the block. You look at it, your home, attempting with your meagre untrained eye to assess the severity of the infection. So many questions. Who can help? How do we fix this? What’s the prognosis? How can I fix my home? Can it be fixed? Who will pay for it? What did we miss? Why? Who’s at fault? How bad is it? How did my surveyor not see this? How did I not see this? Can my house be insured? Must I pay property tax? Where do I turn? And the biggest one…..are my children safe in our home? These cracks above my daughter’s bed, I see them. In the corner of my eye as I read her bedtime story. What’s happened here? I don’t understand. I did everything right, yet it’s all wrong.
“Mum, what’s that big crack going across my wall?”
I am grieving. The loss of my beautiful home. Of peace in my home, and in my mind. The loss of delight in settling into the house I had aspired to for so long. The loss of the joy in returning home in the evening after a busy day out. The loss of the joy of home decor, dinner parties and furniture shopping. Ultimately, the loss of owning a true home.
I pay for it, this true home. I pay my mortgage, my property tax, my utility bills, my repairs. Yet I don’t have it.
Trust, I decide. Trust. Keep trusting. News trickles of government redress. Hope. Light. Daring excitement. Really?
Time passes……and passes…….more cracks. Deterioration. Visible and invisible.
I wait. And trust.