Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I didn't think...

I've been reflecting on life for the past couple of days.  Not sure why I experience some of the things that I do. Not sure why I feel the way I feel. Maybe it's just my instinct. Maybe my sense of self preservation.  Whatever the case may be, for good or bad, I know now that I tend to just react to what is happening without much thought.  And that is what happened this past weekend.

On Sunday, my neighbors house caught on fire.  The owners are a young couple with a 1 month old child. They were not home at the time.  But, they have two dogs and a cat.  All of which were in the house.  Being a hot Sunday afternoon, I was in my bathing suit playing in the hose with my Sons.  Then I heard "Fire"! Without forethought, I ran straight out the front door and toward their house with no shirt and no shoes.  There was already glass broken all over the porch from a neighbor that had tried to break out the window. Another neighbor arrived on the front porch just after I did.  He grabbed a landscape brick and finished breaking out the window.  Once we tore out the screen he stepped through the window and unlocked the front door.  We both bolted in; he ran upstairs and I ran downstairs to look for the dogs.  The house was filled with smoke and the flames were rising up the back of the house from the deck where the fire had started.  The dogs were in the upstairs bedroom and my neighbor grabbed them and ran out of the house.  I got to the basement and looked all around for the dogs but did not see them.  Then I heard an explosion and a crashing on the floor above.  My Wife yelled in the house that the dogs were out and I decided that i should get out too.  I took a deep breath and ran up the stairs, through the kitchen where the slider glass had broken out and out the front door.  A second neighbor had grabbed his garden hose and started connecting it to the faucet on the outside of the house.  I grabbed the hose and started pulling it toward the fire. The water came on and I started spraying the back deck where the fire had started. Another neighbor had pulled her hose across the street and was spraying beside me. In what seemed like an eternity, the flames started to subside and the police had arrived.  With the flames mostly extinguished, I handed the hose to an officer and backed away.  We had saved the house.

A while later, after the homeowners had arrived and we went inside to look around.  My neighbor who had run into the house with me, led us in a prayer together.  It was hard not to break down.  Finally realizing the extent of what had happened, the tears started flowing.  Whenever I think of this moment, I get choked up.  I'm so thankful that we did this. For whatever reason, I wouldn't have thought to do this and it makes me sad.  Did you ever think about it?  Why don't we pray with our neighbors?  This was the hardest part for me.

Looking back, I realize that I didn't think during this entire event.  I just acted.  Without the quick thinking of my other neighbors, who wore shoes and grabbed their garden hoses, the outcome may have been much different.  I didn't think to use the water faucet on the house that was burning.  I didn't think to put shoes or a shirt on before running into a burning house.  I didn't think there would be time.  But they did and each of them has earned my respect.

I am truly humbled by the whole experience and it has been hard to think of anything else.  I find myself thinking about how I could have done something differently.  It is futile, really, to think that I could have done more without the other people in the neighborhood.  I couldn't have.  We all needed to be there that day and God had put us there at just the right time.  I thank Him for each and every one of my neighbors.  ALL of them.  I learn a lot about myself from them every day.  In the end, I'm glad that no one was hurt and that this family will be rebuilding and moving back in next month.

To all my neighbors who had a hand in this, I thank you.

I believe this picture was taken just prior to us entering the house.

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