The House Is Burning

   Three weeks ago, I received a call from my mom telling me my sister had a small accident. Immediately my mind thought she meant a motor vehicle accident. Mom quickly explained it was actually an accident involving fire. My sister's home was on fire. Mom didn't seem too have many details. Later I learned my sister asked her daughter-in-law to call mom and not tell mom how bad things really were. Mom is 82 years old and we try to shelter her from worries, she's had enough over the years. I called my sister as soon as I hung up with mom. My sister was crying and said she couldn't talk. I asked if she was ok, with voice cracking between sobs she said "no". I told her I'd be right there. Unfortunately, we live 40 - 45 minutes away, so it's not a quick trip. My oldest son told my mom where I was going, and of course, she wanted to ride along. We headed out, not sure of what we'd find. I drove the interstate in silence, mom and I both lost in thought and fear. Speeding my way down there I made the trip in record time. Upon approaching my sister's cul-de-sac, I was looking for smoke or emergency vehicles. I didn't see neither, which sprang hope that things weren't as bad as I had feared.

    My nephew and brother-in-law were in the driveway loading black trash bags onto a utility trailer. We asked how bad the fire was because other than the front door and smell the house looked fine. They told us it was pretty bad and to go on inside where my sister was emptying their refrigerator. As soon as we walked through the garage we could see the damage to the walls. They were blackened. My sister's home is a tri level so we made our way through the darkened den to the bottom of the steps that led to the kitchen. The electricity had been cut off to the home due to the fire. Looking up those stairs I could see the kitchen ceiling was black. I carefully maneuvered the steps. Upon getting to the top of them my breathe was took away. The kitchen was destroyed. Some of the cabinets burned completely. The ceiling had a hole burnt through it. The interior of the dishwasher was melted to the dishes that had been inside it. The pictures on the walls had melted. One wall was gone and all that was left was the studs. The floor was wet from the water the fire fighters used to extinguish the flames. In the midst of this chaos, my sister was throwing the food from the refrigerator into black trash bags. She looked up with tears in her eyes. It was heart wrenching. She hugged me and mom and I could tell she was trying to hold her emotions inside so as not to worry mom.

   Upon walking around, we saw the fire had been so hot it had cracked every pane of glass in the windows. The walls were so hot you couldn't keep your hand on it. The television had melted in the living room. The blinds that once hung over the living room window, lay melted and crumpled on the floor. The exterior storm door had melted so it would not close. My sister's wood flooring was already buckling and rising up due to the water used on the fire. Of course the house is filled with smoke and it gets hard to breathe after you are in there for several minutes. We convinced my sister to go outside with us. She is a nervous wreck. She wants to clean or do something but no amount of cleaning is going to salvage this home. They talk to their home insurance company, which brings up a whole new set of concerns about where will they live. We'd gladly let them stay with us but we are so far away. Their sons live close to their home but although they each have guestrooms neither have beds in their guestrooms. They decided they would take their own bed apart and move it into one of the sons guest rooms. That was the plan until they went upstairs to their bedroom and discovered their bed was ruined. The fire in the kitchen was so hot, the ceiling fan in their bedroom had melted. Their bedrooms were destroyed by smoke and heat. My sister's bedroom furniture was ruined, the varnish or shellac on the furniture had melted and puddled at the bottom. All their clothes had extreme smoke and soot damage. The walls had got so hot, the screws that held the drywall up had burnt black spots in the walls. That shocked me. As a wife of a contractor I knew those screws were taped and mudded with joint compound before being painted. Those walls had to be unbelievably hot even with being the furthest distance from the fire. How did that whole house not go up in flames?

   As a person with ankylosing spondylitis, emotional stress can lead to a flare. I haven't had a typical flare, even though I've stressed and worried so much about my sister. However, I have been experiencing severe fatigue since the fire. The first few nights after the fire I couldn't sleep. If I did drift off, I would wake thinking about the fire and my sister. I've started sleeping finally, but I am still having daytime fatigue. Hopefully, time will improve everything. My sister started having panic attacks after the fire. She is starting counseling so I hope that will help her with her anxiety.

   This experience has gave me a prospective I never had before. You hear of people losing everything and you have sympathy but you never truly understand until it hits home. In a later post, I will share how my nephew's dog saved my sister from being inside the home when the fire erupted. If you'd like to hear more please click the "follow" button on the sidebar.

  Peace and pain free wishes being sent for each of you my friends!

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