On this night you decided to stay over at my place. In the middle of our sleep my eyes shot open sensing that something was very wrong. I scanned the room and it was darker than normal and accompanied with a haze.
I shot out of bed and ran to open the bedroom door and all there was before me was a room fully engulfed in flames. There was no way to reach the front door. I screamed and you jumped out of bed, ran over to close the door but it was too late, a back draft was in progress.
I ran to turn the bathroom light on but it did not come on so I ran to the bathtub to turn the water on then stood frozen watching it run. You came in and told me we needed to exit through the window. We were on the third floor of a four story building.
You grabbed me, we ran over to the window, you stood behind me and I looked down at the ground then at the fire department across the street, literally a stones throw away. All lights were off and everyone was sleeping soundly. I had worked there just a few months prior, during the summer. I was the secretary to the fire chief and knew everyone by name. I found my voice and started screaming “Help! Fire!” and began calling them all by name, not knowing who was on shift. The fire could be seen from the main street by this time and we watched cars pull over and people get out to bang on the fire station doors.
At this point the fire was on your neck, back, legs and your arms were wrapped tightly around me, protecting me from the flames. You were screaming in pain. Blood. Curdling. Screams. I could not turn around to face you because my eyes could not withstand the intense heat. Your pain was too great, the heat too intense and I knew it was time to jump. I stood on the windowsill at the exact moment the ladder reached us but had already started to jump, facing forward, and somehow landed halfway down the ladder without falling to the ground. I injured my back but did not yet feel it through the adrenaline. You were right behind me…
Looking back, I realize you never asked or told me to jump. In pain you waited until I was ready. You suffered first, second and third degree burns and endured six months of hydrotherapy and bandaging. In my panic, surely I would have died that evening were you not there.
What am I grateful for?
- Knowing coincidence is not just so but part of the grand design
- Knowing there is a way out even when one does not see it
- Knowing the exit route may include loss and pain but will lead to life
- Knowing that emergency preparedness must involve edification of the soul
- Gaining a deeper understanding into the illusions of temporal things
- Having experienced patient and sacrificial love, to recognize its truth