Today marks the day that changed our lives forever. 5 years ago our family personally experienced something that’s normally only heard about in the news.
It started off as a normal day as I got up early, kissed my sleeping wife and son, fed the dogs, and rode my motorcycle to the office. In 2011 we were living in a small country TX town, and I worked about 1 hour away from our house, so it was faster to take my Harley to work. After finishing the day I rode through the traffic, excited to get home and see my family. As I entered the neighborhood I saw a dark cloud of smoke rising in the air, and saw our neighbors on their front lawns. In the distance, down the street we lived on were several fire trucks and fire-fighters all over.
As I got closer I realized they were at my house.
Hastily scanning the scene, I saw my wife’s car was in the driveway, but she was nowhere to be found. I quickly jumped off my bike not even stopping to shut it off and sprinted to the house and screamed at the first firefighter I saw, “What happened, where’s my wife and son?!” They wouldn’t tell me anything but kept telling me that I have to speak with the Fire Marshall first. A million thoughts were going through my mind and the voice inside my head was saying, “This can’t be real,” but I couldn’t talk myself out of reality. I started to think the worst. Those few minutes seemed like an eternity, but in an instant I saw my wife running toward me as tears ran down her face. I ran to her and hugged her tight as I asked where our son was. She continued to cry and whispered, “he’s fine…. but the dogs died.”
It was a bizarre mix of emotions going through me: I felt shocked that this was really happening to us, relieved that my pregnant wife and son were still alive, distraught that Moby and Radar (our Labrador Retriever and Jack Russell Terrier) died in a fire, but thankful to be alive and have my wife and son. At that moment in time, I was very sad but also very blessed. I realized just how precious life is. And that all the “stuff”, the material things I felt I owned, didn’t matter one bit compared to the family and friends around me.
You may have experienced this type of significant event in the timeline of life. Where at first glance, it seems like our world is being taken away. One would ask him or herself, “why would this happen to me?” But a mentor of mine told me that the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of the questions we ask. I could ask myself “why” all day long, but my brain would come up with all kinds of answers that would throw me in a loop. Instead some better questions to ask were, “What am I gaining from all of this? What can I learn and take away from this? What about this situation will make me a stronger and better man?”
For the first time in my life, I had nothing but the clothes on my back, but I had EVERYTHING important to me with the people I care most about about right next to me. And my motorcycle, that was actually still nice to have :). The days and months that followed were not easy as we didn’t have a home to go back to, our bed that we were used to sleeping in, or any of the things we had the luxury of using in an instant. Our son would ask us when we could go home, but we had to tell him the truth about how our home burned. I didn’t have it in me to tell him the dogs died in the fire, so when he asked about them I told him they were now living on a farm.
But we learned about resilience, strength, getting back on our feet, and that people do care. Our neighbors, family, and friends were there for immediate support. We were so thankful to the people who gave us the little things that made a HUGE difference. To have a toothbrush, a shower, toys for my son to play with, and a change of clothes meant the world to us, and the people that made this happen were so great. I will remember those generous souls forever.
It’s crazy to think about that this only happened five years ago – so much has happened since that day. Our 2nd son was born healthy the following year, and we had a 3rd boy a couple years after that. I believe that everything happens for a reason. EVERYONE has a story. Often times, we don’t really know what others have gone through, so we can’t really understand why someone does what he/she does or why a person is a certain way. I hope that this event in our family timeline helps you understand a little part of us, and we would love to know your story as well.
Please comment and/or share our blog – it would mean the world to us! I’m grateful just to be alive, to have the chance to connect with you, and to have another day to wake up and do something. Take care and make it a great day everyone!