Saturday, July 14, 2007

Answering The Nudge

Yesterday (July 13Th), I was assigned to cover my first fire. The call came in over the police scanner as a construction fire. I grabbed my camera, ran to my car, and followed the passing fire trucks. We turned onto a long dirt road running through acres of wide-open land. The road continued to a thick forest and then down a steep hill was the house, completely engulfed in flames. Two fire stations were already there spraying massive amounts of water. There were some brave fire fighters on the first floor of the house checking for victims while the entire top floor was raging with flames. It looked like it could cave in at any moment. Thankfully, no one was home. I took a few photos and started up the hill to leave the firemen to their noble task.

As I got to my car, an older woman (early fifties) with tears running down her face ran toward me screaming, "What's happened!? Is my house OK?! Has there been a fire?" (We were up on the open land, where the trees were covering the view of her home, so she had no idea what was going on). Every single official was trying to get the fire under control before it spread, so I was the only one free to talk with her. I couldn't bare to tell her the extent of the damage. She pressed me for details, so I told her when the call came in, the house was 70% consumed in fire. She threw herself onto my shoulder and wept. "My parents are dead and all their pictures were in my house, all my memories. My kids' baby pictures."

In yet another moment of "unprofessionalism," I cried with this dear woman and hugged her. How could my heart not break for someone who went out to run a few errands only to return to find her entire HOME decimated (not just a house, but the place where she made her life, raised her kids, made her HOME-it was all gone). She told me her husband had left that morning and would be getting on a plane in an hour. Every time she spoke of her husband, she burst into tears, saying "He kissed me goodbye this morning and told me to be careful because it's Friday the 13Th," she sobbed. "I can't tell him, he's been looking forward to this trip for a year. He couldn't bare this." I don't think the extent of the damage had hit her yet, because she hadn't actually seen the house yet, but I knew she needed to call her husband and tell him to come home right away. I handed her my cell and encouraged her to call. She dialed the number and then started to have a bit of a panic attack.

She handed me the phone and said, "I just can't. Would you please tell him for me?"

That's right folks. I had to get on the phone and tell this man that his house was consumed in flames. Being the bearer of bad news is not fun task, but I couldn't refuse this broken woman, so I did it. Her husband was in shock. I opened with with "your wife and kids are completely fine and everyone is safe...." He, of course, rushed home to be with his wife.

As I waited with her, I felt God giving me a little nudge. And being the rebellious little brat that I am, I nudged Him right back. :) The lady was standing beside me shaking her head, crying, and muttering, "Oh God, why" (oh a phrase we are all familiar with). I finally heeded the constant nudging, and asked her if I could pray with her. Her whole face changed, almost smiling, and said "Oh yes." We bowed our heads and prayed the best I knew how, which seemed clumsy and overly simple. But when we were done, she took a deep breath, wiped the tears from her face and said. "Thank you. I needed that. I've been a nurse for 30 years, so I know what's important in life and in ain't buildings."

I truly hope these people find the strength in God that they'll need for this time in their lives and that God will use this fire to somehow bless them. I didn't want to be there, (I'm super sensitive and cry at the drop of a hat), but I'm glad I was sent to cover this assignment because if I offered just the tiniest bit of comfort and hope to this woman, then it was well worth it.


Tonya said...

You were absolutely there for a reason, Tia.

I'm glad God nudges harder than you and I do:)


musicmommy3 said...

that's a very touching story Tia. Thanks so much for sharing! What a huge blessing you were to that woman!

maura said...

I'm glad you didn't tell me that story over the phone,or worse,in person. That is a very sad story. I'm glad you were there for that poor sweet lady.

Mandi Ord said...

Tia -
I am proud of you!
Love you,