Monday, February 9, 2015

Back Into the House

The next few hours after the house fire are quite a blur to me. I recall using the phone at the neighbors to call my brother David (as I had his number memorized) and the Hardys (the parents of the girls who were staying with us). Even those calls are quite fuzzy in my brain.

I have flashbacks to seeing certain people but no clarity...

The mayor Alabaster coming to the door and asking if we needed shelter for the night.

Jim Houston, one of our pastors from church, was one of the first ones there to check on us.

Several people from our small group who came immediately. I do not know how they found out.

My brother bringing food for the girls as they had missed dinner. It seems like it was McDonalds or Burger King.

Those are the only images I can seem to conjure up from those hours of waiting at the neighbor's house. I don't remember how we even came to the realization that we could look into the house.

Going back into the house was not really on my radar for January 29, 2005. I naively figured we would just go to a hotel for the night and sort it all out in the morning. Somehow I found myself standing on the porch of our home with a couple of guys from my small group by my side. I don't remember anyone except Barry Coffee.

As I stepped one foot into the living room I saw black everywhere...the smell of smoke was destroyed....everything I had known in my home that very morning was gone. Never to be recovered. My heart raced. My first words were, "Dear God, please help me. I don't think I can do this." Barry said, "Yes, you can," and helped me to take the next step.

I barely recall walking in and out of rooms but I had the distinct feeling that I needed to find something for the girls. Anything. Those men were so bent on helping me that they dug through their rooms until they found some trinket for each one of them. And I was so thankful.

Somehow our closet had escaped the fire and only had smoke damage. Several friends were going to take our clothes and wash that putrid smell out. We found JT's Bible and tried to salvage that as well (that was a five year process, by the way). Other than that, we had NOTHING. Not one thing. The song, "All I have is Christ" could have been our anthem. He was never more present to us in those moments.

As we loaded into our van to head to the hotel, I remember the look of terror on one of our girl's faces. She had no adequate way to process her pain. She looked so helpless and hopeless. She took both hands and scraped her chest...I held her tightly and wept with and for her. I could not imagine what we were going to do now.