Wednesday, June 5, 2013

And When You Walk Through the Fire . . .

I remember the first time I said to myself, "Life just doesn't get any better than this."  It was an autumn afternoon and I was curled up on the ugliest green plaid sofa in the world, napping with my newborn, Brittany Elizabeth.  We were the only ones in the house and I remember whispering those words.  It's one of those mom moments that never go away and for me, they are always right there on the tip of my brain even as I am looking at my fully grown children.  Last Thursday, Brittany and I were spooned up together on the sofa just like that autumn afternoon and I still whispered,  "Life just doesn't get any better than this."  Can life get better than holding your 32-year-old daughter after she's escaped a horrible house fire?  I certainly believed when I held her infant self that life couldn't get any better, but seven days ago, I fully realized that it can. How thankful I am for her safety (and the safety of my grandchildren).

I've always been afraid of fire.  When I was in elementary school, I woke up one morning and joined my father in our "family" bathroom (the one without an electrical outlet - family story) and he told me that the little boy I sat next to at school had died when his house caught on fire the night before.  I was mortified that things like that could happen to children.  To make matters worse, I went to school and our teacher handily "announced" that Marshall wouldn't be coming to school anymore because he died in a house fire. Then she asked me to clean out his desk.  These are not the imaginings of a woman many years from the fourth grade....this is how our teacher handled the loss of one of our classmates.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I became a school counselor - blunt trauma in the fourth grade.

Add to this, the stories of my father and his brothers who reminisced about the house fires that they lived through as children. My Grandmother Wyant lived through watching two of her houses burn to the ground because the "bucket brigade" couldn't get to their home in the Indiana Beech Hills fast enough.  The Wyant brothers have turned the house fires into a family joke about my Uncle Denny.  The story is that my Grandmother told Denny to run to the neighbor's to tell them that "the house is on fire."  As he ran out of the house toward the neighbor's house, he looked back and yelled at my Grandmother saying,  "Hey mom....our house is on fire too!"

Fast forward to the late 80's when my parents lost their house to a fire.  This was the time that I thought my mom would surely divorce my dad.  He had been draining the gasoline out of one of his antique tractors on a chilly May evening when he received a phone call from a neighbor to return a borrowed coffee pot.  It had to be returned immediately.  I'm sure my dad thought that this woman was a complete nag at the moment, but in reality, returning the coffee pot saved his life.  Shortly after he left, the fumes combusted and a fireball shot through the house.  I got a middle of the night phone call from my mom telling me "the house burned down." The week following was full of emotion and working sifting through the rubble that used to be our home.

Now I'm helping my daughter live through the same sadness and loss that my mother and grandmother lived through and I'm realizing that twins are not the only thing that "runs" in our family.  And I'm not talking about fires.  I'm talking about circumstances that are recognized as small miracles, not coincidence.  And strength, tenacity, and an optimistic attitude that nurtures gratitude and the ability to see the glass as half full....not half empty. My Grandmother told me that something good always comes out of every circumstance, even house fires. 

In the last week, I've watched my daughter move from a near fetal position on the sofa of her neighbor to an upright position that involves moving forward one step at a time - and the world is much brighter than it was one week ago tonight.  She's thinking about all of the good things that will come from this loss and all of the strength and character she will have as a result of it.  She feels she's changed forever, and I'm sure she is.

After three days of making an inventory of everything that was in the house, the last place to sift through were the family picture albums.  Not many were left, but I walked out with a picture of one of the first ultrasounds of the little twins.  I was reminded that my daughter brought these little ones to this house and created a wonderful childhood for them.  I know she'll do it again with the same style and grace as the first time.....but with a little more wisdom and knowledge of what it means to fight for your family with the help and support of friends, family, and God.

When thou shalt pass through the waters, I will be with thee, and the rivers shall not cover thee: when thou shalt walk in the fire, thou shalt not be burnt, and the flames shall not burn in thee.
Isaiah 43:2

God, and family, and friends aren't waiting for us at the END of the waters, but walking through it with us. What a beautiful promise. 

Thank you to everyone who has helped my daughter and grandchildren whether it is with prayers offered up, food, clothes, transportation, money, time, smiles, hugs, or words of encouragement.  The last week was manageable because of your support.  It will be paid forward.

“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.”
― Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home
Dylan, Logan and Carson at the zoo

Lindsey and Carson

Brittany with Dylan and Carson

Dylan with his best bear

Lindsey at her recital on the Saturday after the fire

Lindsey seems to live to dance

Chillin' Dylan at the hotel swimming pool

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