Today I heard about two nasty fires. Real fires. It wasn't a euphemism for something even more unpleasant. These were bad fires, though. Loss of life along with loss of property.
The first was reported to my by my Al-Anon sponsee. In the wake of an ugly divorce, he found himself looking for a place to live. His "fall back" plan was to rent an apartment in the home of a local family, one of his daughter's schoolmates. He wanted something a little bigger, though, on its own property. Lucky for him, his first choice panned out, because last night the residence that was his fall back plan fell to fire. The fire started in a barn and ignited the propane tanks, which quickly engulfed the house. In the video in the link below, the area where there are skylights are where he and his daughter would have been. God had them in His hands. Unfortunately, the schoolmate's father wasn't so lucky. He perished in the fire. They came home from shopping to find him, and their home, gone.
This afternoon, I had to take my eldest bulldog, Lily, to the vet. She has a lung infection, probably brought on from the ridiculous amount of pollen we've had. While I was standing outside the X-ray room, I chatted up one of the vet techs. I've been going there for years with my babies, so I know most of these folks on a first name basis. Ranee looked sad, which was unusual for her. She said, "Did you hear?" I shook my head and felt my pulse speed up. What had I missed? Should I have known some bit of news?
"On the 11th, our house burned down. My dogs were inside." Her eyes welled up. Mine did, too.
Though the neighbors called 911 and Ranee's mother immediately when they smelled smoke, and though the firefighters came from just 3 miles away and kicked in the door to try to rescue the Basenjis, it was too late. One was already dead from smoke inhalation and the other one did not respond to resuscitation efforts. Those dogs were Ranee's babies, two 12-yr-old litter mates. She said the fire started in the wall, behind an outlet that wasn't properly grounded. It had been throwing sparks anytime anything was plugged in, but the sparks were in the wall, not where they could be seen. There is so much that could be going wrong in our homes at any time, I thought. Her husband is an electrician, yet he never would have suspected that outlet of a problem.
We talked until she had to go back to work and I had to get back to my own frail baby. We hugged a couple of times, and I told her to please call me if she needs to talk, because she is a great person. And because we don't have a pet bereavement group around here anymore, there is really nowhere for people like us, who really deeply love our pets and spend foolish amounts of money, to go and let it all out.
My own experience with grief has taught me that patient listening is the only way. There is no way around grief. There is no way to fix it. There is no advice or comfort anyone can offer, other than a patient ear. There is only the way through it. For some reason, the hand of God has directed that I be a messenger of patience, love, and compassion for those who grieve. I don't seek them out. They find me. And that's okay.
May none of you encounter fire in your lives anytime soon. I wish you peace, D