After very little sleep last night, I decided to take a quick cat nap this morning after getting the kids off to school. Knowing I have a long full day ahead, I usually cannot nap and don’t like to, but thought it was necessary.
I closed my eyes and immediately had a dark sensation overwhelm me. I thought how lucky I was to be afforded this time, and also how peaceful it was at that very moment, but how quickly things can change in an instant.
After a stressful morning and short fuse, I really needed this rest. But my peaceful moment was now being flooded with memories swirling like snapshots in photographs…
Within seconds I was there again…so clear and vivid…so chilling.
My mind was telling me a story again that I think about occasionally, but always on this day…every year…for eight years.
The time span of these snapshots this morning was not even thirty seconds maybe, but enough (coming fast and furious) to bring me to tears and wide awake.
The hotel lobby…the room…the smells…the pool…our luggage…
There were no cat naps or resting now.
I remembered the dark room in the spa. The knock on the door. The annoyance visibly spread over the masseuse’s face. No one ever interrupts a massage.
This was my moment of relaxation after several days in Disney with family-we finally planned it right…de-stressing from a whirlwind five days in Disney, now in Clearwater at a quiet hotel on the water.
The de-stressing never happened.
The car ride to Clearwater was more stressful than the visiting of the parks…the children were tired and cranky. We became tired and cranky…we should have just headed home.
But after several trips to Disney, we saved for this treat, knowing we always wished to find some chill out time after long full, yet fun days in the parks.
The following morning after we arrived in Clearwater, I was treated to a massage-a little Mommy pampering (maybe a belated birthday gift from a few weeks prior?), then back to the husband and kiddies for some beach or pool time…whatever we wanted at our own pace…we were relaxing…finally.
The knock on the door during my massage immediately made me think something was wrong with the kids, or maybe my husband’s 98 year old Grandmother back home who wasn’t well before we left…
The girl at the door told the masseuse it was an emergency and I needed to find my husband right away.
I quickly got dressed and found my phone buzzing away and noticed several missed calls from back home…oh shit.
What on Earth is going on????
I walked back into the vast lobby and see my husband charging down the stairs white as a ghost…where are my babies?
What is going on?
My husband was running to the car to search for his cell phone after getting a call in the room from a friend back home…
It’s gone…all gone.
Our home burned, not to the ground…but everything is gone…
The rest of the story now leaves me in tears as I write this…the hysterics on our children’s faces as we tell them what happened…
Their toys, their clothes, pictures…everything…their stuffed animals and trophies…their beds…
Where will we go?
What will we do?
The nightmare trip home of begging to get on a flight…only to have it delayed overnight because birds flew in the engine…
Are you frigging kidding me??
Why? Why now? How much more bad karma can one family take?
It could be worse, we were told…after almost 24 hours trying to get home, then arriving to family and friends covered in soot with tired eyes and heavy hearts…
These snapshots will haunt us forever.
We rebuilt a stronger and safer home…our family and community surrounded us with love and food and shelter and clothing…even Halloween decorations to cheer up our girls…
We came out of it all that much stronger…
When we feel weak and can bare no more, we remember these snapshots as I did this morning from eight years ago today, they lift us up and tell us we can and we will be stronger.
October 20, 2008
“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. Strength comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t”- Unknown