Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Gift Part Two

KABOOM! A mysterious roar shakes the roof of Ron’s home startling him awake. The darkness of night is making it hard for Ron’s eyes to focus as he leaps from bed to investigate the thunderous sounds coming from above. Forty-eight hours prior, the whole Northeastern part of the United States had received one of the heaviness snow storms in years. As Ron opens the back door that leads onto a deck now covered in two feet of snow, he fully expected to see balls of sleet pounding down on his 20-year- old wooden shingles.

Finally, Ron’s eyes adjust to provide the reflective evidence of bright orange flames engulfing his attic. This horrifying image has a paralyzing effect on Ron as he stands in disbelief with his bare feet incased in freezing water. A voice arrives from deep inside of his mind that says, “FIRE!”

Swiftly, Ron is back inside screaming to his children, “FIRE! Get out of the house! Wake up . . . there’s a FIRE!” Adrenaline is pumping through Ron’s entire body as he heads for the heart of the fire that threatens to steal his son Matt’s life who sleeps in the attic. Like his older brother, now in college, Matt followed in his footsteps and now calls the attic his room.

Halfway up the stairs, Ron is knocked in the chest with a force of intense heat, which throws him crashing down to the foot of the stairway. Without hesitation, Ron shoots himself back up the stairs . . . the heat knocks him back even harder than before, staking claim that these stairs are now of that of the fire . . . go another way.

Ron, still screaming as loud as he can for his children to get out of the house, followed by calls to his son, Matt, broaches the second stairwell—his last chance to save his son.

Nearly to the top, flames rush his way eliminating any hope of reaching his son through this means. Suddenly, inspiration comes; Ron dashes down the stairwell back outside in search of his ladder.

Finding it packed in snow, he quickly leans it against the house and begins a climb for life.
No more than two-thirds of the way, the flame captures the window in an all out booming roar. As glass rains down on Ron, he slumps downward on the ladder. Matt is gone.

Like his beautiful wife Nancy years before, Matt, his young promising son is no longer. Weeping uncontrollably with his face buried in his hands, he cries out to God. Hopeless and feeling the weight of his tremendous loss . . . Ron doesn’t even feel the dangerous effects of the freezing snow around his body.

How will he go on . . . what will he do now?

“Daddy . . . Daddy” He hears little Emily shouting for him from the front yard. His other children must be frightened beyond belief.
Like he has done before when life has dealt him a crushing blow, Ron picks himself up and runs to his children.
As he turns the corner, Ron sees a living miracle—it’s his son Matt standing next to the other children. “Alive, you’re alive!” Ron embraces Matthew as the others form a family huddle around the two of them.

Though the firefighters heroically battled the blaze throughout the night, the house and all that was in it was not to be saved. Pictures of Nancy and of the kids, furniture, clothing, everything…all of it consumed by fire.

With the children safe at the neighbors, Ron stood alone watching the blaze take his earthly possessions away.
As the last firefighter retreats, giving way to enormous flames, he directs his path toward Ron. Carrying an object in his hand but through the smoke, Ron can’t make it out. “Sir, I was able to save this.” stated the firefighter as he handed Ron a Bible. It wasn’t just any Bible of the 12 Bibles that once could be found in the Chiricosta home. It was Ron’s Bible that he had since college and it contained his personal notes and memories of faith.

Overwhelmed with a rush of emotions, Ron closed his eyes and with much more appreciation than the first time, thanked God for the two gifts he received tonight.

You see, everyday is a gift, from the moment we wake to time with our children, to the lives we are allowed to be a part of, to the purpose entrusted to us. Ron is our modern-day Job, straight from the Bible. He challenges us all to evaluate our lives, what we hold dear to our hearts, to what basket we “put our eggs” in, I guess you could say.

As Ron and his children move on in life, they’re not certain where they will live or what clothes they will wear—but those things are not important enough to lose one moment of sleep over.

Ron, thank you for inspiring me to search for the special things inside of myself . . . your friend for eternity, Todd.

A Poem By Mary Oliver

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