Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Dark Anniversary

One year ago today, autumn had begun to settle in. A man had taken a trip to the nation's capitol to look into a new farm to locate his large family to. Before he could get home to share the exciting news his life changed forever. A fire had begun in his home that would eventually claim the lives of the rest of his family. While his pregnant wife Monika, 39, was sleeping along with her children Susie, 11, Elle, 10, Marcus, 8, Sammy, 7, Paul, 5, Nathan, 3, and Debora, 19 months, fire destroyed everything.

To this day, nobody knows what started the fire, but the results were clear. The firefighters were called to barn fire in West Lincoln and knew when they arrived that it was bad. They could see the blaze from a fair distance off and realized the scope of what they were racing towards. Once they arrived they knew that the house was a write off. There was no hope of saving it so they focused their efforts on containment. TO keep the blaze from overtaking the surrounding buildings, they dug in a fought the fire for a half an hour before they learned the horrible truth.....the family was home. The town being a small one, the firefighters pretty much knew everyone else so it was time to let instinct take over and get the job done. To this day there are still firefighters that think almost daily of the tragedy of that day. When asked how the firefighters had handled the tragedy the chief simply said "Everybody cries".

The shock of the fire was felt far and wide. While Marc was racing home to sort through the wreckage of his life, the community aligned to support him in whatever way possible. Those that were close to him helped him out with food and shelter while he stayed. Those who were not local pulled together and raised thousands of dollars to form a scholarship fund and construct a massive memorial playground in honour of the family at the school they attended.

How a man can cope with such loss and such grief is a testament to his faith. He said simply "This is a day the Lord has made. He has decided they must come home," his voice cracking. Those of you who have lost a loved one, be it a friend, spouse, sibling or parent, can identify on a fraction of the sorrow he must have felt. Nobody can possibly understand the depth of his grief. I can only imagine, while he stood at the funeral surrounded by family, friends and community, he never felt more alone in his life. All we can do is offer a prayer for Marc and the families of his wife and himself as this dark one year anniversary looms overhead. Rather than focusing on the bleak reality of it, we should try to look at the beauty and good that this family had forged in their brief time here. Marc had said to the press at the dark time "The joy we experienced from morning at the breakfast table to good-night hugs and kisses will sustain me through the days and nights to come." As we celebrate their lives and cry for their loss, take time to remember your own family and never forget to let them know that you care. You never really know when you may lose the opportunity forever.

When you see something like this happen you can't help but not worry about the silly things that annoy us in our daily lives. Marc would give anything to have his daughter pull his beard while having a horsey ride. To be thrown up on while sitting awake at 2 in the morning on a work night with a grumpy baby would be heaven. To have a two year old race across the house screaming "Daddy's home!" with glee only to have her head ricochet off of a testicle or two would be a welcome thing. Would that I capitalize on every opportunity to do well for my family and to give them everything I am and that I have now that I understand how precious what we have really is. While my bank account may try to state otherwise, I really am a rich man. Those little moments that make life worthwhile, can quickly be erased by another moment we hope never comes. While I wish that such a tragedy had never occurred to Marc and his family, I am glad for the wake up call it gave to me. I hope with all my heart that the only tragedy I need to suffer through is watching my children grow and move out. If that isn't so , may I handle any of it with the poise and grace that Marc did.

For more on the Woerlens, their family, and the past year stop by Monika's Life. The poems and photos are woth the stop alone.


Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

That's absolutely tragic...I cannot even BEGIN to imagine his sorrow. This is where faith gets you thru.

I'm off to read more about it now....thanks for sharing, Rainypete.

9:10:00 AM  
Blogger Jayleigh said...

Pete, this is so horrible! Thank you for sharing. I am off to the site right now.

9:22:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

It makes me count my blessings. I could not even imagine the horror.

Take Care

9:54:00 AM  
Blogger JODSTER said...

STOP MAKING ME CRY! You know I read these at work (stupid dial up at home... )

Man.. between the poppies and the tragedies, you're making me look like a softie., Now CUT IT OUT.

Thanks for sharing.

9:59:00 AM  
Blogger sands of time said...

Such a sad story.It does make you realise that we should all be grateful for what we have.

10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Rowan said...

has it really been a year?
Everytime I hear this story, or saw something about it, my heart breaks.

You are right, it DOES make us look to our own families. I will hug them especially tight this evening.

2:19:00 PM  
Blogger Ms Vile File said...

I got goosebumps reading this.

But your message, and Marc's, that you 'don't sweat the small stuff' is so true. We have infinite numbers of things to be grateful for.

3:57:00 PM  
Blogger Scarlett said...

Mark is truly a strong Christian.. what an example. Wow.. this post has left me speechless. To lose all that, and be so able to keep your life from completely falling apart. All too often I complain because of a bad test grade or not getting enough sleep..

What a wonderful realization to come to, Pete. We all truly are rich.

5:38:00 PM  
Blogger wondy woman said...

That is really beautiful and tragic, Pete. It's put my daily stresses into perspective. Thank you.

Wondy xx

5:52:00 PM  
Blogger Charlie Gordon said...

This is the first time I heard this particular story, and I'm holding back tears while trying to imagine the anguish this man has been through.

Thank you for sharing this story, Pete.

8:01:00 PM  
Blogger That Girl said...


12:13:00 AM  
Blogger Walker said...

I can't imagine and I don't want to imagine what it would be like.
This was horrible. To loose everything and everyone and to be left behind alone must be devastating.

12:44:00 AM  
Blogger katie said...

Thank you for posting this. Sometimes it is so easy to take family and friends for granted, while rushing around trying to take care of everything else.

10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Leesa said...

Wow, it does make you realize the little things we take for granted. Great post.

11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Celti said...

wow. my heart is in my throat now. I'm so glad I told my husband and my child this morning that I love them. Heading over to Monika's Life now...

12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Hick said...

On a day when Andrea Yates is back in the news, this story is all the more poignant. Thank you so much for this story.

(It is also nicely written.)

1:11:00 PM  
Blogger No_Newz said...

Thank you for bringing Marc's amazing outlook to light.
Lois Lane

2:18:00 PM  
Blogger Fizzy said...

I don't know what to say. Truely horrendous. His outlook is ....

4:43:00 PM  
Blogger t~ said...

what a timely post and wonderful advice. While i can't imagine fully his pain, i can only begin to guess what mine would also be if ever faced with such an act.

5:09:00 PM  
Blogger Le laquet said...

Poor poor man

12:50:00 AM  
Blogger Rae Ann said...

Just in the last week there have been two fires in the area that claimed entire families. Tragic!!

9:57:00 AM  
Blogger MamaKBear said...

Oh that is awful! I cannot even imagine the pain...

12:14:00 PM  
Blogger L said...

what a tragic story

1:01:00 AM  

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