Sunday, February 21, 2010


Everything in life is so fragile. Tonight I watched a neighbor's townhouse burn. In a matter of minutes, it went from me hearing a fire engine to looking out the window and seeing smoke coming out of townhouse up the street to that smoke getting thicker and blacker to flames in the front to flames engulfing the entire front and back of the house. The fire department was there and they put it out within another few minutes, the entire event, that I witnessed, probably happening over the course of 12 to 15 minutes. Those 15 minutes have changed the people who lived there, intensely and immediately. Their lives are now in a state of devastation and chaos. Their home, that protects them from the elements, provides them safe harbor and if they're anything like me is their oasis, gone in an instant. Fragile.

Fragile is defined as easily broken or damaged or delicate and vulnerable. Everything about us, our bodies, our homes, our lives are so fragile. My incredibly strong husband who could lift and move anything ... fragile. In an instant an infection got into his body and changed our lives forever. It didn't matter how strong he was because ultimately he was and we all are so vulnerable.

Luckily the people in the townhouse got out unharmed. The fire was caused by their dryer. Luckily for us, Shawn is alive, surviving the crisis that is our health care system (another post on that coming soon) and regaining physical strength. I'm shaken to the core after witnessing the fire tonight. It's just one more thing that reminds me of just how fragile we are.

If we think about this too much, we might never leave our homes. Somewhere along the line we have to have faith that things will be ok in spite of how vulnerable we are. Or that if things aren't ok we will find the strength to overcome it. I have found an insurmountable amount of strength throughout this ordeal. How is it that we can be so fragile yet so filled with strength at the same time?


Leslie in Adams Morgan said...

This is the lesson I learned when I went to New Orleans after the flood. This is what I wrote on my August 29 Sammy Beckett post:

"I did the most I could but I hurt. I came home and everyone sat outside my Adams Morgan Starbucks and walked their dogs and I wanted to tell them, your life is not secure. This could be gone tomorrow. All of it."

It's true .... our lives are not secure but your sense of vulnerability will not feel so prominent forever.

I also watched a house burn in Adams Morgan a few years ago. I was surprised at the strong impact it had on me since I knew none of the residents. We took up a collection after that and the whole neighborhood chipped in to help them out. That's the major thing I miss living here in Ballston ... the sense of community I felt in Adams Morgan.

Anyway, you are right, Mina, we have to live our lives and accept that things will be alright ... because ultimately things are alright. Shawn is alive. He is strong in heart if not in body right now and you are incredibly strong as well.

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