Friday, November 09, 2012

Overnight Tragedy

At about 3:19 AM , Margaret, my wife and I awoke to flashing lights. Having not been asleep long, it took us a few minutes to get to our senses.

Had the police pulled someone over outside of our house, had someone had a heart-attack and the EMT's were responding?

And then I noticed a constant and steady sound of agony, a wailing of sorts - slow and steady - . I was becoming more coherent and I stumbled into my clothes to go outside. 

Margaret said she could see smoke and embers from our bedroom window and I still did not think it was a fire. I exited our home and the smoke became apparent as did the depth of what was happening and my senses went on overload.

The crying is where my feet brought me, across from the burning house was a person laying swaddled in a white blanket, curled in a fetal position and this is where the agony emanated from; the sobbing and shaking of this grown man. The pain of his guttural sounds almost too much to bear. He just lay there; heaving, amid the chaos of flame and the diligence of the trained fire personal.

I wanted to hold him, hug him and absorb his hurt and pain, but I did not have courage to do so. A chair was brought for his wife to sit upon and the house burning was her focus as her husband sobbed.

The trauma was overwhelming as neighbors gathered to witness. I texted our children that we loved them and it was then that the wife of a firefighter whom I recognized approached the seated wife. She knew what to do as she hugged the woman and consoled her not with words, but with action. I wished I could have done the same..and then it happened as Mrs. Firefighter finished hugging and walked the mere 7' towards me and as she recognized me from town she also recognized my heart. She could see hurt, nothing compared to the displaced family, but hurt and sadness nonetheless and as the distance between us expired we hugged. A hug of security, a hug of the moment, a hug of life, a hug of support.

I have seen and experienced very little tragedy in my life and on this morning the tragedies unfolded before my eyes.

I wanted to reach out in love and support to the husband and wife and yet it was someone else who did that for me. And at the end of the day I think that is what we all need to be doing for each other -
* show support
* show love
* words are not always needed
* actions speak louder than words

(special thanks to the men and women of Collingswood, Gloucester City, Pennsauken, Bellmawr and Runnemede Fire Departments (and any I missed).

Each moment is special and to be cherished and opportunities to show love are to be seized. 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." 

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