Last week was a week of ups and downs. The realities of listing the house left me with a "Cranky Wednesday" (see previous post). Just when I thought I was feeling better and was looking forward to settling in for a pleasant evening, life had other plans. A loud roar and crackle alerted me quickly that something was wrong. It seems that the weeks of using up the last of the wood that had succumbed to the weather, was just enough to coat the narrow liner of my chimney with creosote (despite my using the powder that was suppose to deter it) resulting in a chimney fire.
I am a bit of a fire phobe. I won't leave the dryer or dishwasher running when I leave the house. I use the fire treatment faithfully. I try very hard to be careful with all things flammable, to the point of being annoying I suspect, and yet, here I was with a chimney fire. Fortunately, my fears had prepared me for what to do next. I used sand and baking soda to douse the fire in the wood stove. I sealed it off to restrict the oxygen. I checked the walls from the main floor to the attic for heat, I watched for the color of the smoke from the smokestack. There were never any flames shooting from the top but the color of the smoke was enough to confirm my fears. I was suddenly grateful for the 15 inches of snow that had fallen the day before. I called 911 and heard the sound of the alarm echo from the firehouse.
By the time the police officer got there, the smoke had turned much lighter, but the fire department still came to make sure all was ok. I stood there wondering what I could have done differently and beating myself up for letting it happen. Seeing the ladder truck extended to my rooftop was surreal. Fortunately, there was no damage. The chimney company that installed the liners a mere two years ago still needed to be called to come and inspect the liner, but everything else was completely fine. I said many, many prayers of thankfulness, and thanked the wonderful firemen that had help to make sure everything was safe.
I didn't fall asleep until after 2:00 am. It's hard to disperse that much adrenaline. I was so grateful that everything was OK, and yet I was still sick that it even happened. I reflected on the actions I took while I was waiting for help to arrive. I put the dogs out immediately and Milo was by the door as if he knew he might be next. I grabbed my computer and an external hard drive that had old pictures on it. I grabbed my good camera. I even grabbed the envelope that had all my tax documents for this year's taxes. I grabbed my planner. I had already grabbed my phone and purse. As I sat there and recalled it all, I realized I hadn't grabbed my guitar. That made me sad. I made a mental note to take it if there was ever a future situation, though I prayed there would never be one with the same breath. I also laughed as I recalled that on the last trip out the door to wait for their arrival, I grabbed an unopened 1 liter bottle of diet coke that was sitting on the counter. I remember specifically thinking I should take this because I might be outside for a while and I might get thirsty...Really? Thirsty? You grabbed the diet coke but not your guitar? At least I grabbed Purple Moose.
The lessons? You can never be too careful. Even when you are thinking you are doing everything right, things you are trying to protect yourself from can still happen. Life continues to be fragile and unpredictable. In another PERSPECTIVE moment, My Transverse Myelitis, Multiple Sclerosis and Optic Neuritis mattered only in how they slowed my movements up and down the stairs to check everything and show the officers around. Suddenly, I had an amazing appreciation for life it and all the little things I had taken for granted several hours before.
The experience made me really intolerant for bad moods we self perpetuate. I don't only want to be grateful after a near miss, I want to be grateful all the time. I want to be the kind of person that gives people hope rather than makes them feel discouraged. Life IS fragile. There is heartache to be found everywhere. This journey is by no means an easy one. I have to wake up each day and newly commit to a day filled with hope and gratitude. Sometimes I have to remind myself continually throughout the day. Sometimes I get discouraged by my fatigue or aching, and stumbling legs. It is especially difficult on the days when I awake and my vision blurs and I know it will be another day with minimal screen time or reading. I think those days are the hardest. I want to complain. I want to give up. I want to wallow. But even though that may be easiest thing to do, it never feels good, at least not to stay there or as a way of life. That's not the person I want to be. I don't want to bring those around me down; I want to help lift them up.
So I thank you all for listening. Thanks for not only being my side in person or virtually, but for helping to hold me accountable to myself. Thank you for helping me to stay positive and live hopefully and never give up. I hope I can in turn do the same for you and others around me. Together we can the best that we can be.
Kristen is a former kindergarten and special education teacher with two wonderful grown children, two precious fur-baby dogs and a mischievous cat. Diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis in September of 2016 and Multiple Sclerosis in December of 2016, and Optic Neuritis in January 2017, life has changed in a big way in a short amount of time. But HOPE springs eternal as she rediscovers and reinvents life along the way.