Mounds of rubble and ash were all that was left. The upstairs had collapsed inward. Most of the outer walls of the downstairs remained standing, as if guarding the remnants of our home.
We have all heard stories of fire leaving in its wake only heartache and pain. Never would we have imagined that such devastation would one day claim our home. The smell of smoke refused to leave my nostrils, as the horror kept replaying in my mind.
Our smoke detectors raged with an alarm that hit our ears like a bolt of lightening. Smoke was coming from every direction. I followed Rich as he crawled over to the sliding glass door. He managed to get it opened, and we crawled across the balcony and down the stairs to the back yard.
“Scooter is still in there!” Rich held me and wouldn’t let me go back in.
“You stay here; I promise I’ll get him out.” Rich retraced our escape route.
“No, Rich, come back. Please some back.” The realization that he went right into a death trap hit me like a ton of bricks. The stairs leading to the balcony were aflame. Please don’t let him die!
In response to the sirens, I ran around to the front. Help was on the way, but would it be in time? As they stopped in front of our house, my screams were deafening.
“Help, my husband and dog are in there. You have to get them out, please get them out.”
One of our neighbors placed a blanket around me and cradled me next to her.
“They’ll get them out.” Mary tried to comfort me with her calmness.
Firefighters seemed to be coming from every direction. Mary stopped me from collapsing on the ground as they walked out, one on each side of my husband and one carrying Scooter.
Paramedics began treating Rich for smoke inhalation and burns on his hands. They were also seeing to Scooter. The lungs of a Jack Russell are small and he had inhaled a lot of smoke. Gratitude filled my heart when another neighbor from down the street who is a veterinarian came over to help.
“Alicia, I’m going to take Scooter to my house, it will be easier to look after him. Why don’t you and Rich come too?”
The Paramedics disagreed. “It’s best if we take Rich to the emergency room. They will probably want to keep him over night.”
“Don’t worry, you go with Rich.” Larry gently picked Scooter up, his brown and white fur singed and covered in ash.
In my husband’s hospital room, the tears refused to cease. How could this happen? It was a blessing we had insurance. But how could insurance replace the real treasures? A house and furniture were easy to replace, but the treasures collected over thirty-eight years of marriage… how did one replace them?
Rich was released by noon the following day. After stopping and picking up a few essentials we checked into a hotel. We couldn’t wait to see Scooter; we dreaded seeing our home, or what was left of it.
With a happy Scooter in my arms, we stood amidst the rubble. The things we treasured were now shapeless, colorless blobs. The window panes had been blown inward. It was obvious there was nothing left to salvage among the blackened remains.
Rich put his arm around me. “We still have each other; everything else pales in comparison.”
I longed to embrace what he was telling me. Although I certainly agreed with him, I couldn’t see how one comes to terms with their life laying at their feet, reduced to nothing!
It was then my attention was drawn to a sparkle amongst the rubble. Handing Scooter to Rich, I went and picked it up out of the ashes…a rose-colored crystal angel. I pushed the button on the bottom and was flabbergasted when the music box inside began to play, “Amazing Grace”! I felt like it was a melody straight from heaven saturating my heart.
Standing among the ruins I began to pray. “Thank you God for Your amazing grace! Thank you for protecting what was important in our lives…each other.”
Tears showered my face as I thought of what might have been. Once again holding Scooter in my arms, I smiled and thanked God for watching over our little guy.
Scooter was overjoyed to see us and could have cared less about the mounds of rubble.
…and they say dogs are dumb!
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