Yesterday my sister and I had a plan. We were going to spend a half day at each other's house helping with a task the other was dreading. For her it was cleaning her basement out. She is a self-proclaimed hoarder in training. Early intervention was in order. My task was cleaning out and organizing all my kitchen cupboards. We promised to get an early start. I started for her house at about 8:30 in the morning. Adding a quick stop at Starbucks would put me at her house around 9am.
As I was driving my mind began to wander, as it often does. I started out thinking about a very good internet friend of mine and how her husband had a very scary health situation this Christmas. He is on the mend and she was so thankful to be having him home from the hospital soon. This lead me to thinking about my Mom and how she has come so close to dying a few times. Then I began to wonder if coming close to death fosters a new appreciation for life and if it so, how long does it last?
Life is short and at any moment someone we love can be taken from us. As I passed under the train viaduct I thought, why this bridge could collapse right now and I'd be dead. As the oncoming traffic hurled towards me I thought 'all it would take is one slip of the steering wheel and poof, you're gone. Would my loved ones know how much they mean to me? I resolved to appreciate the day, my life and my loved ones.
Coffee in hand, I drove down Wayne Rd., one block past Frank's Furniture Store and a right on Ash St., parked my car and headed into my sister's house. She greeted me at the door. Then all of a sudden the house shook, the lights went out and we heard a tremendous boom. We looked at each other in panic and asked each other back and forth a few times... "What the hell was that?" Logic dictated it wasn't something in her house that had blown up. After all, we were standing there unharmed. She checked the basement anyway.
At a loss as to what had just happened we went to the front door to look outside and saw all the neighbors doing the same. One of them said that a building had exploded on Wayne Road. In a daze, we walked to Wayne Road, along with everybody else in the neighborhood. What we saw was unbelievable. The entire store was flattened by a natural gas explosion. Glass and debris strewn all over the road and sidewalks as the force of the blast had blown out the windows of all the businesses up and down the street.
I kept saying to people, strangers..... Oh my God, I JUST drove by that store not three minutes before it happened. Though once I learned that three people had been in the building when it exploded I tried to stop saying it. It seemed trivial in comparison. The owner of the store was rescued shortly after the explosion but was badly burned. We learned later that night that the other two employees had died in the explosion.
Those poor people got up yesterday morning and drove to work just like every other workday. I feel so badly for their families and friends. I hope that they find comfort from each other. Life is so very precious.