Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Fire

The alarm went off. It’s time to get up. Same thing over again just another day. I’m kinda getting tired of this mundane life I’m living.

The phone rang.

My heart started racing. About a year or so before the phone rang around 2:15 in the morning. It was a stranger, but she wouldn’t talk after my continual pleas of asking who was on the other line. Finally the silence broke and she announced that she had the wrong number. I couldn’t sleep. Sleep has never been an issue for me. I tossed and turned and hoped everything was ok because I had a feeling. I didn’t know what the feeling was about or why I had it, but it was strong and real. A few hours later I got a call from my parents stating my brother was in a serious accident which happened around 2:15 that morning. He was critical. They had resuscitated him at the scene and the chaplain of the hospital was the one to call my parents. Suffice it to say I had a bit of post-traumatic stress I believe. When the phone rings that early in the morning I instantly go into a panic and expect the worst news. It usually takes me a bit to calm down and get my heart rate back to where it should safely be.

This morning proved no different.



“Yeah? Ro? Is that you?” Why is Roseanna calling me? I don’t even remember the last time we were able to talk. It’s 5:30 in the morning. Why would she be calling now? It’s kind of an odd hour for her to want to chat.

“Tara, I’m just calling you to let you know something because if it was my parents I would want someone to tell me.”

“What’s going on?”

With a nervous voice, “Your parent’s house is on fire.”

“Ok. Are they ok? Did they call the fire department? How bad is it?”

“They are ok, but it’s gone”

I don’t remember much after that. Dale got up and I told him what was going on. My parents live about 7 miles from us and there is quite a bit of pasture and trees between us, but Dale could still see the smoke. He threw some clothes on to head over there. Wyatt was only about 3 months old so I couldn’t get him up to go. As Dale was throwing some things in his truck we got a knock at the door.

My mom stood there in her pajamas with this indescribable look on her face. All I could do was give her a hug and get her inside.

“What happened? Are you ok? Is dad ok? What about the dog? What happened?”

I took her into my bedroom to get washed up and to get her some clothes to wear. There was no time to talk.

At 4am she got up for some reason. She still has no idea why she woke up, but this was not normal. She walked into the kitchen from her bedroom when she heard an unfamiliar noise. As she went looking for the reason she saw the gutter outside of the house was on fire just outside the kitchen patio door. She went to get my dad who immediately grabbed the fire extinguisher. He quickly realized the garage was on fire and told my mom to get the dog and get out. By this time the house had filled with smoke. My mom grabbed her purse and tried like mad to find the dog. He had completely flipped out and my mom was not able to control him to get him out of the house. She was to the point that she was going to leave him. If you all even knew how much my parents love this dog. My dad came back in and forced her out then grabbed the dog. They hopped in their truck and drove up to the neighbor’s house, my friend, Roseanna’s.

They called the fire department and got back in their truck. All they could do is watch their dream go up in smoke right there on that hill up the road. There it goes. All the blood, sweat, and tears. All the memories. All the pictures, negatives, family keepsakes, my wedding dress. There it all went. My dad built that house with  a little help and his own two hands and my parents sacrificed a lot to get it. We lived in a trailer for a few years and then actually lived in a camper until they could save up the money to build the house of their dreams and they did it.

All the sacrifice paid off and they lived in the house that matched the picture in their heads. And they sat there helplessly watching all the years of sacrifice be destroyed in just a matter of minutes. Everything they had besides the clothes on their back, their dog, mom’s purse, and the truck it was all gone.

I raced over to the house as fast as I could just me and Wyatt. I parked on the road as the fire department was in the process of rolling up their hoses. The first time I saw it, my childhood home in ashes, still steaming, and parts still burning, I couldn’t believe it. I handed Wyatt to Dale as soon as I could and I lost it. That kind of reaction is really not normal for me. I am usually pretty good at keeping things together. It took my breath away. I remember putting my hand on my chest and gasping. I couldn’t stop the tears or from crying out in disbelief. To this day it brings tears to my eyes.

In the time around this traumatic event there were a lot of questions. “Why” being at the top of the list. We don’t know all the reasons around it or understand the timing. But when we step back and see the big picture things start to make a little more sense. My mom’s business had started to slow down in a manner that seemed really odd. She was a professional photographer for years and had no trouble keeping busy and people liked her work. This was right when digital was really making a name for itself and she hadn’t made the switch. She lost all equipment and negatives. Thankfully she didn’t have any jobs waiting to be developed and delivered. There were several little things in hindsight that made it clear there was someone protecting them and watching over them.

My brother and sister came as soon as they could. Five years ago to this very day we sat there that afternoon in the backyard staring at the ashes. Reminiscing about things, thinking about things we lost, sitting in silence, taking our own time, hugging, being grateful for what we still had, and crying.

I have had several losses in my life and through them all I’m thankful I can see glimpses of the bigger picture even though I can’t fully understand. With each loss I’m taught something new and my faith grows deeper. The Lord blesses us through the tears of each one of them however odd that might seem to some. I don’t wish loss on anyone, but it happens and it is up to us to recover, get stronger, and learn.


  1. Wow, how awful for your family. Can I assume that they've rebuilt and that they're fine now?

  2. That must have been horrifying but thank God they and their four-legged family member made it out. I hope they were able to rebuild.

  3. Oh wow. How horrible. So glad they were able to get out safely.

  4. That really is a sad story. Your family seem to have come a long way since. I hope life is better for your parents now.



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