by Jennifer Merrell

It was 6:30 PM, on February 10, 2019, in El Paso Texas. That date already had a special meaning because it was our wedding anniversary. However, that date will never be forgotten due to the unfortunate events that took place.

Photo by Dave Warner - A structure fire on Sunday, February 10, 2019 destroyed the home at 433 Flint Ave Ext.

Photo by Dave Warner – A structure fire on Sunday, February 10, 2019 destroyed the home at 433 Flint Ave Ext.

I received a text from my sister saying, Mom’s house is on fire! More later. I immediately replied and said what, thinking I misunderstood the text. Then I asked if everyone was OK? Did everyone get out? It seemed like an eternity waiting for a reply. I later found out that no one was injured and everyone made it out, thankfully, alive. Being thousands of miles away when disaster strikes, is a horrible feeling, just as I am sure being there watching your home burn is equally as horrible. Everyone had gathered to celebrate my mother’s birthday the following day. While they were enjoying the occasion, a fire was brewing inside the walls. I thank God that everyone was there because my mind tends to think of the what if scenario. My mother uses Oxygen and I do not know what would have happened if she were alone. I can picture my mom trying to save a photo album or some memento from the house so that us kids could have something to hold on to. That is just the type of person she is. Others come first, especially her children, no matter how old. My daughter is 12 and my mom sent her the dolls I used to play with as a child, when my daughter was born. I kind of have to laugh because because I can picture my brother Kevin’s reaction as well. He would be telling her to get out immediately and not to risk it trying to get something that can be replaced. There is no doubt in my mind, that he would be the voice of reason. Always Calm. Always Cool, because that is just the type of person he is. To be honest, I kind of wish I were that level headed in an emergency. Things can be replaced, and of course we all have our memories, but it is a sad situation none the less. I think anyone who has experienced a catastrophic loss understands all the feelings that accompany it. Fear, Sadness, maybe even anger.

I had always heard that being from a small town was special. Honestly, I thought that was just something people from bigger cities said. You know if you live in New York you love Florida in the winter, but if you live in Florida, you may wish for a snowstorm at times. It is just human nature.
I am not going to lie, growing up there, I kind of hated it. Everyone knew you, knew what you were doing, there was wasn’t a lot to do. Of course, I was a kid, so what did we know. What I didn’t realize until recently was that being from a small town, is like having a back up family when you, yourself, cannot be there. It is true that social media helps, but what is amazing is the fact that people who I haven’t talked to in 20 years are asking what I need. They are helping my family in ways I didn’t think possible. Of course, when someone goes through a loss people are there to help. But for people to go out of their way to ask me, all the way in Texas, if I need to talk, or to say they are sending me prayers or asking if I need anything, says an awful lot, about them as people and as a community.

I want to take this opportunity, on behalf on my family and myself, to thank each and everyone of you, for showing empathy and compassion during this trying time. There are too many people to mention by name, but we truly are blessed and honored to call you our friends, and lucky enough to call you our neighbors. Sometimes in this world we forgot about others because we get so busy with our lives. I hope we never as a community or as individuals, never get too busy to help others. So tonight instead of yelling because my house is a mess, I will be grateful I still have house to call home, and those headphones of my daughters that she just can’t seem to ever pick up, I will be thankful for the small things as well. I think maybe the world might not be so bad if everyone was from a small town. Or perhaps, just maybe, that is what makes our town, so great. Thank you again to community, family and friends, far and near, we will never forget your kindness.