Mild. That was the temperature Friday night, October 31st, 2008 ~ perfect for trick or treating. No arguments on trying to figure out how to wear winter jackets underneath costumes ~ I love that!
Now, the energy at my house was anything but mild. There were 5 girls and 2 boys who were trick or treating together and then spending the night. There was lots of excitement and great anticipation for over-flowing pillowcases of candy loot and the possibility of staying up all night eating it.
I needed to pack as I was leaving town very early in the morning for a women's retreat so I volunteered to stay home and hand out the candy to all of the little ghouls, vampires, and princesses that came by. My husband had the more daunting task of shepherding 7 high energy kids around the neighborhood. All arrived back at the house with a little bit of energy burned off and the happy glow of knowing they had raked in enough candy loot to keep a good sugar buzz going for weeks to come. They proceeded to grab a couple candies from their bags, flopped around the living room and watched a movie. Ahhh! Quiet time.
The thing that kids really love about 'sleep-overs' is that its really about 'staying up and talking as late as possible-overs.' This is the thing parents tend to hate about 'sleep-overs.' At 1 am, with my alarm set for 5 am, I realized my window of sleep opportunity was rapidly closing. I went into the room with the chatty girls and used my most annoyed and annoying voice to suggest they 'Stop Talking and Go To Sleep! All that really did was keep me agitated so I couldn't actually get to sleep until around 2 am.
Boom! A boom that makes the whole house shake! It was close to 4 am and I was instantly awake. I wondered desperately what and where that noise could have come from. Seconds later, another Boom! I flew out of bed and down the stairs. I could hear a noise but couldn't identify it and then I saw an orange glow reflected by my kitchen window. Fire! Somewhere there is a fire! Not that house, not that house, not there, I thought, as I raced around our house until I got to our office. There, very close to our house, was our neighbor's car, on fire and blowing up before my very eyes.
I screamed for my husband to get the kids out of the house and proceeded to call 911. All of the kids followed the plan, quickly got out of the house, and walked to our other neighbor's house to wait and watch. Everyone, naturally, began running through their part of this story. What each heard or saw and when. And then, the 'Thankfullys' ~ Thankfully, its not too cold. Thankfully, no one is hurt. Thankfully, the fire is contained. And then, the wondering. What would make a car, that is just sitting in a driveway, suddenly blow up in the middle of the night? There was no satisfying rationalization.
We were back in our house by 5 am trying to convince the kids that getting a little more sleep would be good. I showered, gathered up my things, hopped into a car with a friend and headed out of town for the women's retreat. It was a short night and it was still dark.
12 hours later, I wondered, 'Did that really happen?'
Many days later, my daughter and I talked about some of the effects this event was having on us. It is still shocking and surreal. Our brains are still taking time to process. There are sounds and images, and vivid dreams of things and places blowing up, filling our night time. There is a new fear of fire to contend with.
Halloween 2008 will certainly be remembered, but not for the pillowcases filled with sweet treats!