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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Heart Aches and Ashes

My brother Dave and I were outside the door of the church at my daughter's wedding last June. In the middle of our conversation, he said, "Can you smell that smoke?" I paused, sniffed the air, and yes, I could smell smoke but from where? "It's my shoes," Dave sighed. "I guess I'm going to have to claim them as a loss after all. The insurance company had them cleaned, but you just can't get rid of that smell." Ten days before the wedding, Dave's house was nearly destroyed by fire, and 90% of its contents were a total loss. (You may remember that it was Dave who shot the beautiful video of my daughter's wedding.)
.
Two weekends ago, I was at Dave's house on the other side of the state for the first time since the fire. It was charred and gutted, but contractors are being to rebuilt from the inside out. It will be several more months before he and his family can move back in, but they're doing fine all things considered.

There is a sort of grieving process involved in surviving a fire and losing all your "things," but it pales to the sorrow of lost life.

A week after seeing my brother's house, most of us heard on the news about another fire in North Carolina. So many of us have been encouraged through the months by our friend Nancy at Daily Blessings. We were all saddened when she told us that her god child, a sophomore at Clemson, was one of the seven students who did not escape that October 28th beach house fire on Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina (north of North Myrtle Beach).
Many of us have been praying for them this week.

Then this morning...
we received a phone call from my daughter,
Emily. She wanted to make sure we knew she and her husband were alright. At that moment, the morning news was showing a fire at their apartment complex. They live in a very nice setting in the dunes just off Lake Michigan. High winds, like these seen at the Grand Haven Peer, made the fire difficult to put out.

The units that were destroyed are a few buildings away from Keith and Em's place. Had they been awake, they could have seen the smoke and orange glow from their balcony, but they did not even hear the sirens in the early morning hours (--kind of scary if you think about it). Fortunately, as this newscast explains, the people in the building were awakened by some residents. Everyone got out. (Tuesday evening news update.) In my brother's case last June, his son woke to smoke and jumped from his bedroom balcony before the fire came through the door. Within minutes, his room and the adjoining bathroom were destroyed.

My heart has been heavy with these thoughts today... and fearful of "what ifs," but I have also been more mindful of our friend Nancy and her close friends and the heartache that began for them ten days ago.

Let's continue to pray for them.
Her name was also Emily.

12 Comments:

Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

I've vacationed many times in North Myrtle Beach (Beach Cove Resort) and have seen plenty of houses on stilts. I'm sure those types of house fires are even harder to escape. No one should have to experience such tragedy -- no one.

6/11/07 7:55 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

JRT,
I saw the news coverage of that fire in North Myrtle Beach, and some were able to jump out of the windows into a canal. It was an early morning fire like the one at my daughter's complex this morning (around 2:30AM). This morning's fire was "billowed" by 50 MPH winds.
Nancy is such an encourager to others.

6/11/07 10:10 PM  
Blogger Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I am sorry to hear of this loss of life. It is always hard when they are still young. My prayers are with Nancy on the loss of her god child. May she find God's strength and love to help her through her own grief and to be the wonderful encourager that she is to the parents of Emily.

7/11/07 3:59 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Thank you Tom... and to all of your readers. It is comforting to find this kind of support from individuals that I have never even met. I have been blessed. Blogging can be full of surprises and this is one that I did not anticipate. You are such a kind man with a huge heart and that's what keeps all of your readers "comin' back for more"!

I am delighted to hear that Emily and her husband are ok. Fire can be scarry indeed.

7/11/07 1:52 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Definitely a huge loss. It really has me thinking lately that we dont have much of an 'escape' plan if something were to happen. We have fire alarms everywhere yet after three years in this particular house, I'm not 100% sure that they work. How ridiculous! Once I get home today, I'm definitely going to evalutate our situation and have a good, long talk with our 4 year old because as we all learn evenutally, you just never know.

Julie in Colorado

7/11/07 1:54 PM  
Blogger Cris said...

It can be very devastating when you lose your most valuable possessions in a fire. It's even more tragic when it is a life that is lost. I am sure that Nancy's godchild will be greatly missed. (((((HUGS)))))) and prayers to all.

7/11/07 6:03 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

LGS,
To rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep, is one of the blessings of not living in isolation.

Nancy,
Glad to hear from you. There are many people remembering your friends' situation. Em and Keith are getting a "rope latter" for peace of mind.

Julie in CO,
October is "fire prevention" month in Michigan schools. We have fire trucks come visit, etc. It's never too soon to start the "stop, drop, and roll" rules, etc. But the most important thing may be the "escape plan" you mention.

Cris,
I know you read at Nancy's and know that Emily who died in the fire had a twin sister who was not with her at the time. That adds a very sad element to this loss.
We had only a hint of "what ifs" yesterday morning, and it made me feel weak and inadequate in faith. You are in these dear friends' lives for a reason. I don't think it's possible to know how many "perfect strangers" are praying for all of you through this time

7/11/07 9:13 PM  
Blogger Jody said...

You may know the story of my own Grandma whose 6 yr old son died in their house fire and her husband was burned {over 60% of his body with 3rd degree burns} back in 1953. I heard different aspects of that family tragedy through the years. It was such a tramatic event and so devastating- my mother has vivid memories and sometimes the way she has shared them makes me feel as if I were there when it happened.
The one thing my Grandma has never gotten over is 'the smell' of it. There's just something about it that triggers memories more than anything else. Thankfully God has used her tragedy to change the hearts and lives of many through the years. My mom recalls the hymn that they sang at both her brother and dad's funeral, "God Leads Us Along..."some through the fire...but all through the blood". I hope that all the families of these heartbreaking fire-related incidents will feel God's peace and find comfort through Him. In all, I pray that God will be glorified and bring something wondeful out of the ashes. That's the amazing part to me in such times- that even where death and heartache are concerned, God is still sovereign over all.
I am so glad to hear that Emily and Keith are safe and that their belongings are too.

8/11/07 7:58 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

God himself weeps over the loss of everyone of his people yet still finds a way to comfort those alive to bury the dead.

Tom I am not one to fear anything because it is that fear, I believe, that opens the door to more evil. Quietly be at peace with all your thoughts and be with God as you know him to be.


Peace

mark

9/11/07 4:50 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Jody,
I know that hymn but it's been years (decades?) since I've heard it sung.
Our lives are richer through knowing people who have known the "what ifs" and can testify that untapped faith is there for the "whens." And their is comfort in knowing others share in the heartaches of life. (Romans 12:15)
Until this moment, I had forgotten of the ancient association of mourning with ashes (Esther 4:1-3)

TWM,
It's been a while since our paths crossed. Thanks for coming by.
One of the most remarkable things about Christ's time on earth is that he knew our human grief; he knew loss, he knew heartache; he wept. John 11. He knew dread and obedience and selfless love. Matthew 26:38-46. And ultimately the Son of God became a man of sorrows. Who better to turn to in such times than the Redeemer of souls. "All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. Psalm 22:29

"All we go down to dust..."

9/11/07 9:21 AM  
Blogger Sondra said...

I am so glad that your brothers family survived their house fire unharmed. It is such a scary thing. We lost everything in 2001 to a fire and it was a very difficult time.
The beach fire hit close to home for us, too. My son attends the same high school as some of the victims did. It has had a great impact on our community.

11/11/07 6:03 AM  
Blogger HeiressChild said...

hi tom, i'm glad your daughter and son-in-law are fine. i left nancy a message on her blog last week. i appreciate you letting us know.

i live in an apt, and we have our furnace filters changed every 3 months, plus they do in-between inspections, and they check our smoke detectors each of these times.

11/11/07 10:43 PM  

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