A frantic door bell ringing at 3:30 in the morning is never the way a person wants to be woken! However, on Sunday, December third that was exactly how we were woken. After putting it together that it was not my dreams I shook Michael to see if he heard it too. You know, the whole send the man to figure out the weird noises… that was me! Well, groggily he walked to the window where he noticed that there were people running around in the street. He said, “it must just be some kids playing pranks.” As he was checking the front of the house I walked to the back and saw that our backyard had an eerie glow. I quickly put it together that this was no prank. Michael grabbed his glasses, boots and sweatshirt and head to the back yard, where he was face to face with a blazing fire consuming one neighbors house and licking the side of another.
Michael sprang into action uncoiling our garden hoses to try and water down our neighbors houses while we waited for the lights from the fire trucks to appear. I was sent back into the house to collect our children. I ran in as police arrived and requested our evacuation. I grabbed my three sleeping children, our phones and my computer hard drive that holds thousands of our family memories and loaded my children in our car and drove them to around the corner and sat with them as unknown took place two doors down from our home.
As the time ticked my boys and I sat in the cold car hoping for good reports. At one point Michael text me to come back to the street but to leave our children. As I walked up our street the lights of multiple fire trucks and police cars lit the way. Upon arrival to our driveway I was approached by a police officer requesting the contact information for our neighbors as they were out of town for a family emergency and their house and door were destructed. Informing the officer that I had been in limited contact with the neighbors I was speechless as I looked at the smoldering house that stood just hours earlier.
As police and fire shuffled about the street the realization that our street has changed dramatically began to seep in. Neighbors gathered in the street, somber looks on each face and words seemed to allude. Sunday as the sun began to rise it felt surreal! How could the sun shine so bright when life for two families on our street have been altered so drastically? As the sun shone bright, the street traffic changed from emergency personnel to on-lookers. News stations crowded to catch the scenes of one house destroyed and another singed. The gut wrenching unease did not lessen as the hours ticked by. Our street was changed!
As Sunday night came, sleep although needed by my weary body did not find me. Sites, smells and sounds edged themselves in to the close eye moments I did find. Monday morning came and with it still the questions of how can the birds sing and the sun shine so bright – lives have been altered, should there not be a darkness in the day as there is in the lives of two families? The day marched on!
Tuesday as I was walking my boys to the bus stop I came across three singed book pages blowing in the street. Three books pages, three days after a house was reduced to ashes… the pages were nothing special but they represented a home once filled with memories, mementos and treasures.
Here now as I sit on the eve of one week, my heart is remembering to be grateful. This week as I completed chores around our house I was reminded that I have a house to clean. I have shelves to dust. I have laundry to wash, dry and fold. I have floors to be swept. All of the little tasks of motherhood that feel sometimes daunting, this week feel like a blessing, as two of my neighbors do not have. Yes, houses can be rebuilt, items can be repurchased – but the sobering fact that one house stood between a fire that all consumed has me counting my blessings. This week my house doors were opened to neighbors as tear filled eyes and words hid behind fumbling minds. I may not have much to give, but this week my door was open, my kitchen cooked food, and my shoulder was there for two families that lost much!