December 24, 2010

a fire and a fish funeral

Daniel, in his pjs, leaning on the firetruck.
At approximately 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve-Eve (or Christmas Adam, as my friend Kristy has started calling it), we heard what sounded like a bulldozer ramming into our apartment repeatedly.  Daniel got up and made his way to the mud room, where he saw every person in our section of the apartment complex standing out on their verandas in their pajamas, staring at us.  Next he saw a fire truck driving through the garden, straight for us.  Next he looked up and saw flames lapping at the outside wall above us.  Next a fireman was pounding on our door, shouting for us to get out! 

We spend our whole lives asking each other the stupid ice-breaker question, "What would you grab in a fire," but we never have to actually answer it.  What did we grab?  Our sleeping kids, who stiffened in their footed pjs and then curled against us to stay warm.  Our computers, to save all of our family photos.  Our family "treasure box," which includes positive pregnancy tests and love notes and cards from Sue Sue and hospital nursery wrist bands and the like.  Our phones, and my birth control pills.  Hey, I love my kids but I didn't want to let a fire give me a fifth one;)

As it turns out, the bulldozer sound was 5-10 firemen working hard to bust down the steel door of the empty apartment above us.  As it turns out, a workman who had been tinkering at the remodeling of that apartment earlier in the evening had discarded a cigarette and the thing smoldered in the construction debris until it caught fire (pray for that poor man as his mistake has cost the wealthy owners a lot of money and he is in big trouble).  As it turns out, we only spent 5 minutes out in the cold before the flames were out and we were headed back home, water pouring down the stairwell from the 13th floor.

I guess all the excitement proved too much for our fish, because we woke up the next morning to Bright saying, "Mama, Hammer is doing a trick.  He is floating on his side."  We had prepared the kids for this, though we didn't expect it to happen so soon, so they handled it pretty well.  As we bundled up to go outside for Hammer's burial, Bright kept starting to cry and then choking it back, a glimpse of our lives ten years from now when their voices will crack from more than pet-death grief and they will try as hard as they can to be men before they really are.

And you know what I kept thinking?  Hammer probably gave up when he realized we grabbed the birth control pills instead of him.  I know how you feel, buddy.  I just noticed that I lost one of my blog "followers," most likely due to my cigarette craving confession, and in some very human way that stings.  Praise G0D I didn't lose more than that on our much too eventful Christmas Eve-Eve.