The first thing I recall this morning was a siren right before I smelled the smoke. I then looked out my window to discover my neighbor’s house in smoke.
Mr. A’s house.
I hopped out of bed in a flash and dashed barefoot to the street screaming his name.
He came running from the shadows so I would know he was alive.
I moved my van so that the fire trucks could back down our narrow street as smoke rolled from the rafters of Mr. A’s home.
“Get him out of here!” the firemen screamed as Mr. A tried to dash back in. They headed him off just before he reached the porch.
I could only stand shaking, barefoot in the cold, watching the smoke wrap around us.
I went in to check on Katie and then, knowing the futility of my actions, sat back upon my bed and watched through my front window. Not even the heavy quilts could stop me from trembling.
Eventually the electric company shut off power to the whole street as the firemen battled the blaze. The smoke grew ever thicker, to the point where I couldn’t even see the men who kneeled before my fence to have their oxygen tanks exchanged.
The fire is out now; Mr. A’s house is calm, hiding the disaster within. I took some pictures for him so that he could remember his stuff as the workmen scooped it up to toss away.
But for the grace of God that could have been me.
That could have been you.
It could have been anyone, yet today it was Mr. A who is forced to start over.
No matter how bad things get, remember this day. Remember that you are warm, alive and breathing.
Remember that, no matter how bad things seem that in the blink of an eye they can get much, much worse.
And when you have a chance, please send a thought for Mr. A up sailing through the heavens, and thank the Powers that he is alive for yet another day.