I believe, at least for me and my husband, the hardest part of surviving mortgage fraud was holding on to the ability to be grateful. Prior to this crime, we were already trying to recover from a job loss and, for those of you who know our story, the loss of our son-in-law and three year old grandson in a head on collision over Labor Day weekend in 2003. The grief we experienced was, at times, unbearable and the sting would stay with us for many years. It would be those losses, and then the bedlam that would follow, with being involuntarily pulled into a situation that has been mired in years of judicial woes, that would bring this quest to light.
The loss of a job that I had excelled in for over eight years was a blow, not only to our finances, but my psyche as well. With this being only the first blow, I was able to get a grip and started my own outsource assessing business (I was a level II tax assessor at the time). By jumping right in I was able to not allow the grief of losing my job take hold, but the sting was still very painful, and caused many years of anger and confusion. My self-esteem had taken a direct hit, but I was moving forward. That is, until we hit a brick wall…
…or should I say the brick wall fell on us; compounding our grief tenfold. When you lose people that are close to you and especially when one is a child; it is all that you can do to keep breathing, struggling to remember your faith as you watch someone you love have their very soul ripped apart in the blink of an eye. You stand helpless, knowing that the scene that is unfolding in front of you will haunt your very soul throughout the rest of your life. Every second, as you hold on to a hopeless hope, knowing that, no matter what the outcome, your life will be forever changed by this tragic event. The pain of watching your grandson die in your daughters’ arms will forever be seared into your souls, and still brings the sting of tears to this writer’s eyes. It is difficult to understand God’s wisdom when the young are taken from us.
With hindsight, I now understand and see that this massive brick wall did have many windows. I have always believed that “God never closes a door, where he doesn’t open a window”. This belief would prove prophetic in a few short weeks, after the funeral, when my husband, who had been adopted at a young age, was found by his four siblings. He was separated from them for over forty years. Two weeks prior we had lost one-quarter of our family and now we had found two sisters, two brothers and their extended families. The miracle of this was not lost to us. This blessing was more than we could have ever expected during such a period of time so steeped in grief.
Four month later we would be introduced to the world of corruption known as World Wide Financial Services. It was like they saw us coming and decided that we were the perfect candidates to “fail”. This company would take four months to complete a refinance, costing us thousands in equity and then, intentionally, forged our signatures to the mortgage that would secure our home to the loan. We were still reeling from the anguish of the previous tragedies in our lives and this company took full advantage of our unspeakable grief.
Through this all we still had to survive our losses and fight to keep from losing even more. For us, this was never about the house, even though it has been our home for nearly nineteen years. As long as we have each other we will survive any storm. Ah, the key. It’s never about the material things that we acquire in life; it’s about the emotional connections that we maintain and nurture. For me, I have never been a “touchy, feely” type of person, but when I love, I love deeply. The house is where we have shared our life, but when I examine what has brought us joy over the past nineteen years, I don’t see the house. I see my husband, my children and my grandchildren. I see my pets that make each and every day a joy to live…but, I don’t see this house. It was never about losing the house. It was always about standing on the law, morals and ethics that I was raised to believe in. It was about fighting for our rights for public trust. It was about not allowing the criminals to win, further demoralizing our country by stripping American’s of their properties through fraud and forgery. So, as you see, it has nothing to do with the house.
The question was, though, how to maintain gratitude through all this chaos. Life seemed to be beating us up at every turn, and the flogging was getting brutal. How does one separate from the pain of the situation and clear their eyes in order to see the blessings? For me, these were very conscious thoughts. I was waking up every morning feeling irritated with the world, not understanding why no one else thought that this was as atrocious as I did. I couldn’t understand how friends would back the banks actions over ours. I didn’t understand why we were innocent of breaking any laws and yet we were the ones who were being labeled deadbeats in order to cast a smokescreen over the fact that a crime had been committed and it was being swallowed hook, line and sinker; even by those who supposedly cared about us the most. I don’t like being angry; however, the reality was and is that I am the only one that can control how I feel. I don’t like holding grudges; I find it counterproductive and useless; yet it’s hard to “hold harmless” those whom have done you such harm. How was I going to find peace when there seems to be no peace to find? If I was unable to find peace, how am I ever going to be able to be grateful?
Then I started thinking about my “little” blessings. Yes, I had lost a job, but I found out that I was able to keep learning, proving that to myself by obtaining my Associates Degree one month before I turned fifty; I will call that survival of job loss. Yes, I have lost a grandson and son-in-law; but I have five other grandchildren, three grandsons of which have come since our precious one’s passing. They do not replace our little guy, but they are every bit as important in our hearts and lives. We have learned that life is packed full of miracles if we recognize them for what they are; but it took these losses for us to recognize those gifts. Through this ordeal I have discovered that my faith is strong and that with faith I can overcome anything. Although it took seven years, we did prevail against the bank. I will stand strong on my faith and with that gratitude comes. I have had to stand my ground against those who seek to, through ignorance, shake me from my beliefs and convictions; however, I find strength in knowing that this is the path that was chosen for me. It helps me to reveal those hidden gifts of God, and those gifts are not always material; sometimes it’s just being appreciative for peace of mind. For those that have offended us there are no peaceful night’s sleep, but for me, there is…and for that I am grateful.