Those who read this blog know that it’s been more than a rough patch for me lately. From December 26th of 2014 until now, it feels like I’ve faced one challenge or loss after another: everything from unexpected (and large!) car, home, and pet expenses, an extremely busy and stressful work schedule, and somewhat alarming health concerns (for someone whose doctor has always thought she had a boring health record), to the loss of 2 beloved pets in the spring and summer and most recently, my mother just a month ago, For the most part, I’ve weathered it well and many are surprised to see how I seem to be effectively managing the stress and grief despite what the human condition has thrown my way. That is, until about an hour ago.
I received a text message from my best friend from Colorado saying, “This is what I had to deal with at 11:45 last night.” The text included the picture to the left, which clearly shows a house fire with a car in the garage right next to the flames. I sat looking at the picture… jaw dropped, stunned, confused… but realizing that she must be ok because 1) I didn’t hear otherwise sooner, and 2) she was texting me this as if it was an everyday event. Of course, I immediately called her.
She told me that she had arrived home from a volleyball game around 8:30 p.m., did some nightly chores, talked to her sister around 10:50, then went to bed. She awoke around 11:30 to her home alarm sounding, but because in her previous home the alarm would get tripped by the slightest thing, she just laid there wondering what had triggered the system. After a few moments of listening for intruders, she made her way down the stairs to turn off her alarm. Just as she reached the control panel, she heard something in her garage, went to open the door, and was met by a wall of flames. She immediately closed the door, rushed upstairs to get her work and home cell phones, then ran out the front door to call 911. Luckily, there is a fire station just down the road and 3 fire trucks, an ambulance, and various police officers arrived on the scene.
Being that she moved into this newly-build home in June, she was having some work done on the interior to make it more her own. The contractors apparently left some flammable solvents in a trash can, which spontaneously combusted, sending flames throughout her garage. The right side of her the SUV she bought just last year was melted, windows were shattered, and her garage door opener was singed, causing the door to open on its own, but then was burned as the flames swept up toward the ceiling.
The good news is that my friend is ok, other than a bit of her own shock, and likely post-traumatic stress from having escaped a situation that could have been much worse. Given that her bedroom is upstairs, had the fire alarm not been triggered, she would have likely been trapped or worse, she would have died of smoke inhalation before she ever knew what had happened.
Although I would have wanted to support my friend sooner, if she had called me to tell me what happened, it likely would have sent me over the edge. I think she knew that.
She and I had some deep heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul talks when I was home for my mom’s funeral. I’ve known her since I was 14 years old, and she knows me better than anyone, including my biological family. She has been through the good, the bad, and the ugly of the human condition with me—and me through hers. Her sister died 9 months before my dad did in 1990, we cried our way through college and graduate school together, we shared each other’s heartbreaks with relationships, we fretted about job and career issues at the same time, we traveled to different countries and many states together, we’ve moaned about the state of the world together, we listen to each other’s frustrations with health and aging, we’ve joked with each other about our gray hair emerging, etc. If there ever was a soul sister, she is most certainly one of them.
After my mom’s funeral, she and I just sat and talked… both about memories I had of mom, but also of how life had changed, looking and feeling different almost instantaneously, even though I couldn’t quite explain how. In the midst of the conversation, I said, “Promise me that you won’t die anytime soon.” She just looked at me and smiled… but this turned out to be a premonition that was too close for comfort.
Like many, my mom always said that God wouldn’t hand us anything more than what we could handle. But enough is enough. I honestly think I would have lost my footing on this one.
No one knows how much they can handle. And no one knows until it’s already happening, whatever “it” is. But once again, consciousness bit me in the tuckus, making me realize that despite the fact that worse was already worse, the human condition can dole out yet another dose. Although my friend is apparently getting a reality check of her own, my new awareness is one of gratitude. When life doesn’t seem like it can get worse, it can.
When you take even one moment for granted, the universe knows. Yet another reminder that consciousness requires constant attention.