“Figuring out life” after losing everything... but still having everything that matters

Pictured here is the vehicle the Toliver children were put into for safety after getting out of the fi re before their dad, Jess, moved it back away from the fi re. Photo provided

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Baby books, countless photos, Tiffini’s Olympic memorabilia, Jess’s quilt given to him by an Indian family from South Dakota, the children’s favorite toys and blankets...all precious belongings the Toliver family lost in a December 26, 2018 early morning fire at their home. But despite the loss of all these tangible things, including the house they had called home for the past five years, they are focusing on the fact that they got out with what was truly most important - each other.

That, and the love and support of family, friends, and even complete strangers, is what’s helping them “fi gure out life” and get “back to normal,” as the Tolivers refer to it.

Tiffini, still choking back tears as she recalled the allto- recent event, said their holidays had been great. They had attended Christmas Eve services where their family enjoyed the privilege of lighting the Christmas candle. Christmas morning, there was juice and homemade rolls to eat as the kids opened their presents from Santa. Tiffini’s mom was there, and so was her friend since college, Prudence Mpofu, who is originally from Zimbabwe. They spent the day enjoying each other’s company, watching the children delight in their new gifts, and playing silly family games together. It was the perfect day. As night set in, Tiffini’s mom and Prudence (who usually spends the night but wasn’t able to this time) headed home. For that, Tiffini is grateful.

Around 9 p.m., Jess took the kids and headed off to bed. Tiffini, who is usually a night owl, stayed up and laid out her things for the next day in anticipation of a “day date” she and Jess were going on to celebrate their wedding anniversary. After laying out her outfit (new ones she had gotten for Christmas) and accessories to wear on the date, Tiffini headed off to start writing some Christmas Thank- You’s. But for some reason, she decided to go to bed instead - earlier than usual.

Around midnight, Jess recalls waking up and all was fi ne. At 3:30 a.m., Dec. 26, Tiffini was woken up by the family dog, Harley, who had just turned 12. He needed to go outside. All was well. At 4 a.m., the Toliver’s son, Isom (he will be two in February), woke up.

“That’s odd for him to be up that early,” said Tiffini. “He usually doesn’t get up until 5:30 or 6 a.m.”

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