It just hurts my heart.
A friend of mine called this morning and left a message asking that I call her as soon as possible. She said it was an emergency. Her husband just died two weeks ago. She found him in his truck on one of the family farm roads leading home. He'd had a heart attack.
She was devastated. They are a very close-knit family. Their son, 21, still lives at home and their daughter lives just down the road. Their daughter's ex-husband even still lived on the family farm. In spite of the divorce, the two remained close friends, forever bound to one another by a 15-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.
My heart hung in my throat as I listened to her message this morning. Two weeks ago, she had not referred to her husband's sudden death as "an emergency". Something was horribly wrong.
She was awakened, at 3 a.m. this morning, by the frantic screams of her granddaughter and two other little girls who were banging on her door.
The three young girls were in a panic, screaming hysterically and breathless from their long run through the woods in the middle of the night.
There was a fire.
The cedar house that my friend's son-in-law had built back in the woods had become completely engulfed in flames. Her granddaughter had escaped the fire along with a friend and the daughter of her son-in-law's girlfriend. The girls were physically unharmed except for the scratches and bruises their feet and ankles suffered as they ran barefoot through the woods to safety.
However, her grandson, her son-in-law and her son-in-law's girlfriend all died in the fire. Their bodies were burnt beyond recognition.
There are many heavy hearts in this small farming community tonight. There is a woman who has lost a grandson so suddenly after the death of her husband. There is a little girl who recently lost her granddaddy and has now lost her daddy and her brother to a fire that so nearly claimed her as well. And there is a woman, who so soon after losing her own daddy, tries to comfort her little girl while mourning the death of her son.
To hell with the paper plates and plastic cups. This time I showed up with vodka, chocolate chip cookies, super soft Kleenex and a big huggable terry cloth pillow. My heart broke for them and I begged God to offer them the comfort I could not. I spent most of the day with them before coming home, giving The Boy an extra squeeze before I sent him off to bed.
Kate asked me recently if this sort of thing, this empathy that I have for others, built me up or dragged me down. I'm not really sure how to answer that. All I know is that it hurts my heart.