In Case You Haven’t Heard-There Was A Fire

Before we begin, you should know that everyone involved in the forthcoming tale is safe and sound. No one was harmed.

One thing you never want to get is a phone call at 2am. It’s never good news unless you’re expecting the arrival of a baby. No, someone’s been in an accident, someone’s dead, or someone is too drunk to drive home. Funniest thing about that 2am phone call for me, and any other jarring early morning hours event…they always seem to happen on the rarest of occasions wherein I have achieved Perfect Sleep.At no other time in my life have I achieved Perfect Sleep other than in the hours (to be so lucky!) or minutes just before the alarm sounds. After which, sleep will not be had again for a while.

Yet, mere hours after our second granddaughter was born and as she and her mother were in the midst of their hospital stay, early in the morning the phone rang.

There’d been a fire at her apartment building. Her partner, his son, and our eldest granddaughter all made it out safe but…everything was lost.

That doesn’t sound so bad, I mean everyone’s ok and all. Until you realize that you had little to nothing to begin with and what you did have you scrimped and saved for mercilessly or you’re a Cheap Yankee like e and you found some free goodies on the side of a road. Always a bonus.

We immediately offered to go get them and bring them back to the house. We’re only a few blocks away after all. We were informed they were safe and there wasn’t much we could do. We asked that he not tell our daughter, who was probably also finally achieving Perfect Sleep after giving birth. He agreed. We hung up. Five seconds later my phone rang, it’s my daughter, and she is just totally wigging out!

I don’t blame her. There’s no other reaction to that one.

It’s around 2am that makes being able to actually do something about the situation prohibitive. On top of everything else, one must wait until Eos makes her arrival to even start trying to do something constructive.

I do my best to calm her down. Her dad gets on his phone, calls the nurses’ station and tells them what’s happening so they can go in there and physically deal with the situation because we can’t even get in at that hour. Even though it’s right at the top of the street.

Thank you very much to the kind and wonderful nurses in the Maternity Ward at L&M who were on duty that night.

Get off the phone and we both just…sat…there….just sat. No words to say. Rarely am I rendered speechless–though I often don’t say everything I want–but this was just such an occasion. So many thoughts scrambling through our heads it was hard to get a hold of any of them. All we could do for a while was just let them fight for space to sink in so we could deal with them.

It’s good to do something while that’s happening. In Men in Black, Tommy Lee Jones said to ‘let the pie work’ and I found that to be excellent advice. Especially in times like that. I went and made a pot of coffee, face it, Morpheus was not coming back with his magic dust to give me Perfect Sleep that night. Things started settling, my mind starting absorbing them and turning them over. We had coffee, we smoked a lot. Like….a lot. We watched “The News”. Finally we got around to finding our voices and went from WTF to wtf.

At about 3am, under these circumstances, there really isn’t another place to start the ball rolling other than Ye Olde Internet. My mind is turning; its about 3am, the marketer in me wonders who and how many people may be up at that hour to see a post because getting as many eyes on it as quickly as possible is key. That may sound cold but during times like this my mind shoves all the emotional completely off the stove and focuses solely on the practical and realistic until the wheel starts turning then we get creative. I made a quick post to my personal FB and two New London centered groups. Within a half hour, people started responding.

I was amazed and gladdened. I mean, this is something I can really do. I have oodles of experience in working the internet. Unfortunately for me none of my book campaigns have anywhere the story I am about to relay. Not even close.



Forward…going forward…

Responses started coming in. Like I said, Morpheus wasn’t returning, we got out of bed, stumbled downstairs for more “news” and coffee. The responses kept coming in.

I posted on NextDoor. Ultimately I decided to run a GoFundMe campaign to raise the necessary cash for future permanent housing I’m so happy to be able to say that, as of this writing, it is just over halfway to the goal of $5000.

I opened it because it was quickly apparent people, sooo many totally wonderful awesome kindhearted people were coming out of the woodwork with clothes,diapers,wipes,formula,furniture,kitchenware….you name it. If money would not be needed for those things and it’s not then the collection could go toward obtaining a permanent solution….an apartment. Not easy to find around here. Not at all.

The wave of donations that first day did not stop for, I shit you not, the first 18 hours. I texted more people in those18 hours than I have spoken to in the last year or maybe three, I’m not very sociable. By 2pm people were showing up at the house with their generous donations and they did not stop, it was absolutely relentless until 8:30 that night when I just had to turn it off for a bit and let my old mind cool down. I spent the whole day non-stop trying to keep track of five or six “conversations” at once along with FB and my email.

I never saw anything like that in my whole entire life.

I admitted that I am not a People Person. I’m more ‘Wednesday Addams’. People are great…at a distance. Up close…eh….I’m way more apt to just pass. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily working my aged butt off for nearly anyone but it doesn’t necessarily mean I want to have coffee with them.

Anyway, by the middle of the day I looked at my husband and said; “If I ever, in my lifetime, say again something like ‘people suck’, you are to remind me of this day immediately.” I mean that with every fiber. Sometimes people are pretty freakin’ awesome.

At 3 o’clock that afternoon my daughter and new granddaughter were released from the hospital and I had the utter joy of driving them home!!!!!!!! Once again, thanks to the nurses and the hospital who were very kind and sent her home with a load of necessities for the baby. I took them back to our house and we go acquainted with the baby, comforted our daughter with the news that people were working hard on her behalf, and did our best to suss out a plan for permanent housing. She went back to the far less than stellar (or maybe even safe) hotel with a load of freshly donated items including kids clothes, baby clothes, food suitable for a hotel, diapers, wipes, and formula along with some toys. The Red Cross gave them enough cash for a two week stay in this place. After that….no one knows.

The next day, yesterday, was blessedly a bit slower, donations still came in and were picked up. We are making and have made arrangements for pickups and drop offs of everything under the sun, just about. Tomorrow we are going to get a donation of beds and other large furniture items to store in the garage and basement until a permanent place for the family is secured.

Several area organizations have stepped up and stepped in with offers of goods and money including the lovely people at the church where I work.

Yesterday we went to BJs and bought six large clear plastic bins so we could begin taking inventory and finding out exactly what we have. After that we made a very large pick up of donations last night at the Community Meals Center it was organized by a truly wonderful woman named Kim. If you’re out there Kim, I want you to know that this city would be so much poorer if it ever had to suffer your absence. Thank you! By the time we left we could not have gotten anymore in the Pathfinder.

I don’t know what you call that but I’m wholeheartedly pagan and I will happily go with the term Christmas Miracle.

On the way home we decided we had worked very hard and very long so we treated ourselves to a pizza. Lugging it all home,carrying it in, we realized again how blessed we are.Especially as we dragged it all out and sorted through it.

Like I said, it’s a Christmas Miracle.

I have never been prouder to be a Native New Londoner. It is all so beyond words.

Just for fun, did I mention it’s Advent? Yes, Christmastime at the church on top of all of this.

For my family the hits have not stopped coming for at least the last two years and I’m much more willing to go with five on that one.

But you gotta laugh or else you’ll cry then you’ll get stuck and maybe end up driving yourself crazy.

Tuck and roll and laugh all the way down that long bumpy hill.

I’m hoping to get some sleep and maybe a long hot bath with all the trimmings at some point this weekend.

If you out there reading this right now have setup an appointment with me to pick something up between now and Monday, please get in touch with me! This has been as amazingly stunning as it has been maelstrom and my brain is a bit fuzty as it is.Please, please, please, remind me.