I remembered waking up feeling like I’m being roasted alive, I reached for the electric fan and thought it was broken. I absentmindedly kicked the blanket off me and decided to go back to sleep. Before I could close my eyes again, I heard a thud, like something fell down. I cursed the cats that usually play on the rooftop. I took the pillow that I usually put beside me and covered my ears. To hell with everything, I am going to sleep.
A few minutes after, I heard people screaming. I thought someone was quarreling. I heard people running and loud knocks on my door. I didn’t want to open it because I was so tired and sleepy. The knocking continued, I turned and sat up on my bed. I looked up and saw flashes of orange from the outside. I thought it was the lights from the koi pond. I shuffled lazily and opened the door. Then my life changed.
My neighbor was standing outside, everyone else was running. My neighbor grabbed me and told me the house is on fire, I don’t know what got into me but I ran back inside and grabbed my phone. The only think I could think of was, I have to call my parents. When I ran out of the house, I was faced with a horror I will never forget. The main house is on fire, the roof of my room is on fire. Smoke was already inside. I barely made it out alive. Everything I owned and worked hard for was turned to ash and I was never the same again.
That was five years ago and I do my best to forget that night. Yet five years after, when the anniversary of that night comes near, I find myself anxious and unable to to sleep. Every time a firetruck pass by, I wake up sweating. Everytime I see fire in movies or news stories, my heart beats faster like I’m standing at the edge of a cliff, about to jump but not ready to fall.
I used to sleep like the dead yet after that, a slight noise would wake me up. When I am outside and see a firetruck pass by, I feel the fear gripping me again. I made it out alive and unscathed but perhaps still scarred.
Five years ago I was given the chance to live again. I promised myself I will not waste that moment.
Funny enough, I remembered just that morning on the day of the fire, we were at a highland resort a few hours from Bacolod city. Everyone else was asleep and I was wide awake, sitting all alone and looking at the world around me. I remembered thinking how beautiful the world is and how, if that is the last thing I will ever see in my life, I will die happy. I didn’t know that in less than 24hrs I will be facing death in the face and realize that I am not ready.
That day I learned the importance of family and in the days that followed I learned the importance of having friends around you. I am blessed that I have people who helped me stand back up and be normal again. Their presence, the encouraging words, the efforts and the caring they showed meant so much to me at the time when I needed it the most.
You see, no matter where you go or how far you think you’ve come, you will still need your family and friends.
I like to think that it is God’s will that I live again after that night. I like to think that He woke me up from a deep sleep just in time so I can see more of the world that He created.
If my neighbors forgot that I was inside my room or just decided to save themselves, I wouldn’t be here now. My room was totally damaged by the fire and everything was burned to the ground yet I lived to see another day. Thanks to people who remembered me, thanks to the Almighty Father for keeping me safe.
I used to look back to that day with dread and always, I end up with tears and regrets. Looking back at everything that happened though, I realized that I shouldn’t. I guess if I never had to go through that pain, if I never went through that trial I will never appreciate what I have now.
Today, I stop thinking of this day as a cursed day. Today, I will think of it as a day of gratitude.
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*I apologize for any spelling or grammatical errors. Proofreading via mobile is a challenge for me.*