The Real Brooklyn Darkchild

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Things We Lost In The Fire

Posted on July 23, 2009 at 6:35 PM

May 3, 2009, we had a fire.

My sixteen year old son put some oil on to fry some chicken?

And Forgot.

He said he knew it was bad when he heard crackling sounds coming from the kitchen. Steeling himself to take a peek, he found the entire stove top?along with the kitchen ceiling?ablaze.

Yes folks: It was A Wrap. The only thing left to do was Leave.

In a Hurry.

After three days wandering through Red Cross covered motel rooms (which is their Limit On Help) we realized we had precious few choices. There was the son with four kids who had a wife with two kids of her own plus their common child between them, but my other son and HIS three kids was staying there too. In a three bedroom ranch.

Then there was the daughter with four sons, but her sister and her three kids was staying with her, plus her cousin and her baby daughter, and sometimes her brother who is living with AIDS. At least her house was bigger: she had a full basement, but she was also out of our school district which means I would have to drop two teenaged boys off on opposite ends of the city.

The son it was.

Even in those cramped conditions I learned to be grateful for a roof over our heads. My sons wanted to run off and stay with their friends, but I didn?t set the fire so why should I be homeless all by myself??? N Word, please! Thirty days later the Lord blessed us with a two bedroom, in our district, in a complex with a swimming pool, my only requirement.

So why is all my stuff still at our old house two months later?

I had to ask myself that question when my ex landlord offered to rent me a truck and help me move out. We had all gone to the house a month earlier, picking through the clothes that weren?t soot-stained and trying to decide what we wanted to keep and what we could throw out. Now that it was down to the wire, I found myself looking at those bags again and wondering why I had saved them at all.

We were getting along fine without that stuff. At our new apartment all we had were the TV?s, computers, two couches I got from my church basement and some plastic chairs.

Oh yes: and the video games those idiots had run back in the burning house to save.

They might Lose Their Lives?but they?d NEVER lose the PlayStations.

Heck no.

Opening the bags, I slowly fingered the first few items. Then it hit me:

I had been carrying around these same clothes since 2005, when I came back from Nashville. Some of that stuff was even older than that. See?once upon a time I was on SSI. And everything I owned: every article of clothing, even my shoes, had been donated by someone at my church. But we had come a Long Way since then. A Good Job and A Book later we could afford a nice apartment even on my crappy credit report. We could even afford to buy some New Clothes.

Clothes that Fit.

Clothes that weren?t Washed Out and Faded by Years of Use.

Clothes that didn?t come from Someone Else.

Yeah, I lost a lotta things in the fire, but we gained so much more. The beds that were sitting in the back room for two years cause we couldn?t get them through the bedroom doors?

Tossed.

The raggedy dresser the man next door gave us that was little more than fire wood???

Tossed.

We no longer needed to be carrying around the baggage of a bygone era. God had brought us through all that, much like he delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians.

And like the Israelites we came out with the Spoils of War: new house, new job, new US.

I don?t even know why I held onto those clothes as long as I did.

But I Sure Am Glad I Threw Them Out.

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