I’m going to tell you a story dear readers. It’s part fiction, mixed with a great deal of truth. One of the last times I volunteered at the SECU Family House I was touched by the gratitude and sincere appreciation for our being there and supplying breakfast for the guests. I was struck especially by one older woman who hugged us and let us know what a blessing having a warm meal and a smiling face was to her. She was a sweet little woman giving off some serious “Grandma” vibes, and you could tell she had that ingrained southern disposition of never having met a stranger quality about her.
The story I narrated below is based on her conversation’s she shared with us about how she had come to be a guest at the SECU Family House. As she let us in to her story, she often times faded into a faraway look as her words hung in mid-air and you could tell that these painful memories were still very fresh for her. Due to her husband’s injuries however, she had not had the time it seemed to fully process it all.
She broke my heart a little for that, because as I said, this was a woman you could tell had sat many grandbabies on her knees. She just possessed a spirit that made you want to scoop her up and hug her. That is why I love the SECU Family House so very much. These are sweet souls who never planned on being where they are, doing what they’re doing…which is basically surviving something difficult the best way they can.
One of my million reason’s why…The story she told us.
Imagine it’s the middle of the night on an unusually cold Tennessee winter’s evening. You awaken with a burning sensation in your nose, and the immediate sense that something’s wrong. Your home is on fire and the blazes are licking up the hallway headed toward you. All at once a thousand thoughts flood your mind, as your husband yells for you to get up and anxiously makes a plan of escape.
Once you have reached safety in the yard you immediately call 911 as your husband dashes back in to rescue your precious two Dotson’s, the four-legged babies that you yelled at him for making you leave behind. He calmly but sternly tells you that you needed to be safe first. You can see the panic in his eyes as he leaves once more to salvage what he can before it is consumed by the blaze.
In the distance you hear the firetrucks approaching and the reality of it all is beginning to set in. This is your home, where you raised your children. This the place where you have created a lifetime of memories and now you are watching it burn down in front of you. Everything seems to be blurred to you as neighbors begin to appear. Firemen explode on the scene, and you feel the sensation of a cold mist in the already frigid air as they begin the fight to extinguish the flames.
People are talking to you, but you are distracted and overwhelmed, unable to fully digest what they’re saying. There are several firetrucks there now, and two ambulances on the scene. You realize someone has wrapped you in a blanket and that it has began snowing again. Suddenly a raised chill covers your body as you see in the distance a stretcher being pulled toward the flamed engulfed entrance.
Fear and a sick feeling overcome you as it dawns on you that your husband who was just here with you what seemed like moments before is nowhere to be found. The sound of the dogs barking relentlessly in their crates intensifies your heightened feeling of sheer panic. The medics are coming out with the stretcher as you run toward them. There lies your sweet husband, your knight in shining armor who wanted you to be safe first. He’s got an oxygen mask on and is surrounded by people rushing him to the ambulance. A neighbor walks quickly with you to meet them.
You get an update from one of the medics that your husband has sustained severe burns on over half of his body from collapsing in your home, trying to save what he could. His valiant efforts to try to rescue family photos and important documents may have cost him is life as you notice in the yard for the first time all he had brought out, now slowly being covered in freshly fallen snow. They shut the doors and tell your neighbor who has offered to drive you they are going to the local hospital to try to stabilize him. Then in matter of minutes, they pull away with flashing lights and blaring sirens.
The next few hours and days are a blur. Your children have arrived to help as you begin the slow process of picking up the pieces. Your neighbors, church family and community have all rallied around to support you in this horrible time. The main hurdle to cross however is your husband and his extensive injuries. Once they were able to get him stable, he needed to be air lifted to Winston Salem, NC to the Wake Forest Baptist Hospital Burn Center.
He is in their burn ICU and is expected to be there for at least 3 months as they attend to the massive wounds and damage to his body the fire caused. Losing your home is something you can survive, but not losing him. The distance to Winston-Salem is almost three hours away and you can’t bear the thought of him being there alone, so you send your daughter to be with him until you can get things here worked out.
It’s been so hard on your body, your heart, your spirit. You’re overwhelmed, and tired, and feel as if it has been all one bad dream that started a week ago on a cold winter’s evening, in Tennessee. Now you’re making plans to arrange someone to drive you to North Carolina to be with your dearest love. You have no idea of what you’ll find once your there, but God is good, and he will provide.
You’re so blessed to have family and friends to help with the dogs, and the insurance company is being very understanding of the situation, the house however is a total loss. You can’t worry about that right now though, right now you long to see your husband, to tell him you are there, and you know he needs you. Luckily your daughter has found out about this wonderful place called the SECU Family House, and fortunately they have a room available. What a God’s send, that’s one less thing to worry about.
To help be a part of that story…
This is just one of the blessings I walked away with that morning. Knowing we made a difference to someone just by being there, just by listening. Thank you very much for reading why I care so much about giving to the SECU Family House. As I said, this is just one of the many reasons. If you would like to donate, and help cover the cost for someone, please use the link below.
All of your donations are tax deductible and will go directly to the house. Eric and I have a goal of reaching $3,500, which was based on this story and her needs. That will cover a room for someone just like this sweet little lady from Bristol, Tennessee for three months…Thank you!