Last night on the way home I got a call from my daughter who was also driving home from work. She couldn’t get home because the police had closed the road a mile on either side of the one-lane road that leads to our house.
From conversation with the police officer who was blocking the road, she was able to determine that the cause was a house fire and get the address of the house. One blessing is that it wasn’t our house. But the address sounded familiar.
After a short wait, the road opened and we began to make our way home. That’s when we found out why the address sounded familiar. The house on fire was our neighbor’s house at the top of the lane.
As we tried to get to our house, the lane was blocked by fire trucks trying to leave. Sarah got the closest to our house before she had to pull off the side of the road – a fire truck was parked on our driveway blocking access. The trucks were wide and the lane is narrow. So there was a lot of backing up cars and maneuvering to get cars out of the way so the equipment could leave.
Getting home for the three of us was an adventure last night. But the inconvenience pales in comparison to the loss suffered by our neighbors. The good news was that fire equipment arrived with-in eleven minutes of the call. The bad news was that it didn’t make much difference. The house which has been standing since the 1860s was devastated. Parts of it still stand, I understand, but I don’t hold out hope for a repair. The sad thing is my neighbor’s parents bought the house in 1950 and she was raised in it. I can’t imagine her sense of loss. Although she and her husband were not at home when the fire started, she lost a pet cat in the fire, which only adds to the sense of loss of memories and material possessions.
All this gives tangible meaning to the expression “up in smoke”. Circumstances change the course of our lives in the blink of an eye. It makes me appreciate and have gratitude for the gifts of material comfort and the normal routines in life. But appreciation and gratitude don't help our neighbors.
I hope we find a way to help them through this as I know they would have helped us. Here’s hoping for their resilience and for a rapid resolution.