Friday, November 28, 2008

A Thanksgiving Tragedy

You never think it will happen to you.

And it didn't happen to me.

So why am I blogging about it?

Because it happened to my family. And it's all I've been thinking about. And maybe putting my thoughts into words will be therapeutic.

For me.

For them.

Just before 4pm on Thanksgiving Day I received a frantic telephone call at my in-laws home from my sister. The house was on fire. My heart was sobbing right along with her but fortunately my brain is what takes over in moments like these. I made sure that noone was still in the house. I made sure that 9-1-1 had been called. Then I made sure my little sister took a few deep breaths so she could stay focused and talk with me rather than panic. "It will all be OK" was the mantra that I kept repeating to her.

And it will be.

Then I talked to my mom and my heart just broke. She was so upset that Beau's birthday presents were in the garage where the fire started. She has a grandmother's heart. The kind that can't stand to think of not having gifts for one of her grandkids. "Those are just things", I told her, "It's OK."

And it is.

So the tears hadn't come yet. I was able to fight them. Hold them down. Keep the faucet off. Until I learned of the most heart-wrenching thing. The loss of pictures of our Timothy Beau; our beautiful blue bundle that returned home to his Heavenly Father after being ours for just 6 short weeks. But it's OK. Many in the family have pictures and now we have a job to do. Gather them. Collect them. Compile them into something beautiful for my parents. It's sad.

But it's really OK.

We have our memories. The feeling of love and closeness and bonding when we held him. The smell of his hair and softness of his cheeks when we kissed him. The warmth of his tiny hand wrapped around our finger. The smiles he gave when gazing at us that made us feel as if he knew something we didn't. And those aren't things that can be captured in pictures. They are precious gifts that we keep in our hearts. And our hearts are all still beating.

And that's why everything is OK.

And I am grateful. Grateful that a big, strong, neighbor went into the house to retrieve my dad who was valiantly trying to put out the fire with the garden hose. Grateful that my sister was not home asleep in her bedroom that shares a wall with the garage. Grateful that my mom was safe even though she was showering in the bathroom right next to destroyed laundry room. Grateful that our cousin Jimmy discovered the fire before it had a chance to get worse. Grateful for my Uncle Rick who has been such a rock to my mom and dad at this time, taking care of things that are impossible for them to think about right now in their overwhelmed state. Grateful for all of the neighbors that stopped to help before the firemen could arrive.

Grateful that my family has seen mankind at their best.

But I'm also selfish. I need to do something. I can't stand being 100 miles away because it feels like 100 million. But there's nothing for me to do there.


I can pray. And I have. I can offer words of comfort. And I have. I can cry along with them full of love and empathy. And I have. But it's not enough for me.

I feel selfish for feeling a need to post about this. My hope is that I can end these thoughts from tirelessly sprinting through my head at lightning speed. This feels selfish.

They are coming to our house tomorrow and I am glad. Our family will still gather together and have a Thanksgiving Celebration as planned. And I am glad. Which is selfish. My parents and sister will come to our house and partake of the medicine which my kids offer them. Their Balm of Gilead. I can't wait to see them. To hug them. To help lighten their burdens. If I can. This feels selfish.

But maybe some kinds of selfish is a good thing. Maybe it's this same kind of selfish that urged neighbors to come help. Because they felt the need to do something. I pray in thanks for those good neighbors. Those people who have made my mom's heart swell in gratitude when it could otherwise be breaking to pieces from loss.

It will all be OK. I know this. I want my family to know this. It won't take away their hurt. Their shock. Their feeling of loss. The inconvenience that this type of thing brings to a family. There will be highs and lows. Peaks and valleys. But it could be worse. So much worse. I am grateful that it's not. Grateful they're still here. Grateful to be selfish.


Stefani said...

Tiff, how sad:(. You have such a good attitude about it tho, thanks for that. And never think "All I can do is pray." Because really, if you think about it that is the BEST thing you can do. Please tell them they are in OUR prayers too.

annette said...

Tiff, I am so glad you wrote all your feelings about this. It is therapeutic to get it out there. And just because you want to be there and do more, does not mean you're selfish one bit! It means you're selfless! Tell your family that they are in our prayers tonight.

BrookeandSpence said...

Tiff, Mom just told me the news today. You always think things like that happen to other people, not the people you are closest to. How tragic and unfortunate for that to happen, during the holidays also. On the other hand though what a great time of year when people's hearts are the most open and loving and giving. I believe there is a purpose to everything and that something positive will come out of this, and ir sounds like it already has. I am glad your family could look forward to being at your house and feeling of your family's infectious love and laughter. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. We love ya.