On Christmas Eve 2005, I jumped out of bed extra early and hit the floor running. I had a mile long list titled, ‘Things I MUST do TODAY or ELSE!!!' The ‘ELSE' part was not an option...as I was hosting a Christmas celebration at my home that evening. I could not afford to waste even one minute...and I did not.
In case you are wondering, I did have a second list...‘ HONEY-DO THIS or ELSE!!!' ‘Honey' was up and running also...all the way out the door to finish some shopping. The morning was off to a great start...everything right on schedule.
Passing my sister-in-law's bedroom, I noticed that a stack of cardboard boxes was sitting outside her door. She had promised to take them to the recycling bin days earlier, and I became irritated when I saw them still there. In a release of anger, I began crushing the boxes...loudly enough that she would hear me...and she did. Then, I placed the boxes out on the back deck...reasoning that I would take them to the recycling bin after I was showered and dressed...the next thing on my list.
Hurrying back up the stairs and into my bedroom, I smiled as I thought..."I bet she'll take those boxes to the recycling bin now!" I paused for a moment and listened...she was indeed running down the stairs. ::MISSION ACCOMPLISHED:: I headed to the bathroom and jumped into the shower...still smiling.
Turning on the water, I had a conversation with myself about whether or not I should ‘waste' time cleaning the master bathroom...as our guests would most likely use the downstairs' bath. I decided that a quick touch-up was in order and should be completed before my shower. As I began cleaning, I looked at the window and thought "I should open that window and let some fresh air inside. Besides...it is an unusually warm day." Immediately, I remembered that the window was painted shut...that I had not been successful in opening it the previous time I had attempted to do so.
Having almost given up the idea of opening the window, I had one last thought..."I'm a strong woman. I can open that window if I try hard enough." I walked over to the window anticipating a challenge...but to my surprise...the window flew open effortlessly. Pleased with myself, I lingered at the window to enjoy the warmth and sunshine. That is when I smelled it and thought..."but it is too warm for the fireplace...something is not right..."
Grasped by fear and panic, I ran furiously down the stairs and outside...the smell of smoke intensifying with every step. As I rounded the corner, my deepest fears became reality. The whole side of my house was on fire...the natural gas meter and lines engulfed in flames. Instinctually, I ran back inside my house...screaming frantically for my family to wake up and get out. I also had the presence of mind to turn the furnace off as I passed by the thermostat.
Even in her deep sleep...when my daughter heard my screams...she knew that something was desperately wrong. She grabbed her cell phone as she ran outside...calling 911. At that moment, I realized that my sister-in-law was still in her room...probably listening to headphones and unable to hear my screams. I pounded on her locked door, screaming for her to get outside. When she opened her door, I grabbed her and dragged her down the stairs and outside.
By that time, the flames had consumed one side of our home and were spreading across the dry lawn. Wearing my nightgown and flip flops...I began stomping out the fire...praying to God and waiting for the firemen to arrive. Just then, I heard men yelling and looked up to see three of our neighbors running toward our home...one of them carrying a water hose over his shoulder. Working together, we managed to put out most of the flames before the firemen arrived...saving our home from total ruin.
When the crisis was over, the fire chief pulled me to the side and said... "Do you have any idea how blessed you are? Not only did you almost lose your home today...you almost lost your life." He then showed me the source of the fire...a cigarette dropped in the grass. I turned and looked at my sister-in-law...knowing that she was the only one in our home who smoked.
After I explained to him how I had been in the shower and got back out to clean the bathroom...he said these unforgettable words, "Had you NOT gotten out of that shower when you did...your home would have exploded...killing everyone inside." I looked over at my children...standing in the front yard in their pajamas...and began weeping.
On Christmas Eve 2005...God gave me a precious gift...He gave me my children...AGAIN.
Written and Posted by:
Elizabeth Nieves - Broker, REALTOR® -- The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group @ Keller Williams (A Bilingual Real Estate Team serving Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill NC and surrounding areas.)
Visit our website at http://www.elizabethnieves.com