fire and smoke

My Patient Husband’s mother returned from vacation last week to find there had been a house fire in her absence. Somehow before it burned too much, the fire department got it extinguished, and no one was hurt, but there’s damage to the roof, water damage, and so on. 

She’s alone out there dealing with the insurance company and contractors and the like. She’s staying at a hotel but hadn’t given anyone the name or number, so it was impossible to reach her unless she happened to be in the house when we called. Power’s been shut off, so there’s no way to leave a message.

On Monday night, my Patient Husband finally reached her, but it only made things more stressful. 

Tuesday morning, for that and other reasons, I was emotionally washed out by the time I got to daily Mass. The baby was being an utter pain, so I ended up standing in the back. I was the last up to Communion, meaning I had just enough time to say, “God, let me offer this for {BIL}, and ask him to pray for his mom.”

(If that’s confusing to you, the idea is that if you pray for a departed soul, the soul might pray for you in return. I was saying, have him pray for his mom instead of me because she could use it. And I knew I had no mental capacity right then to really pray in a sustained fashion for anything.)

My youngest brother-in-law died under tragic circumstances about eight years ago. I’ve been thinking of him off and on for the last two weeks, but I hadn’t thought to pray for him recently until right then. 

And then I forgot about it. I went about my life, posted a griping, whiney message about the situation over at a parenting forum, and that was it.

On Wednesday night, I found an email from  someone at the parenting forum who said, “Is your mother-in-law from {location}?” Her parents were neighbors with my MIL, and she was able to identify her based on my description. The internet is, apparently, far smaller than I thought.

The last line of the message was, “My younger brother used to be good friends with {youngest BIL}.”

I miss him. I didn’t know him that well, but he was an awesome kid, and he died far too soon. But you guys know how my brain works, and I keep trying to make a connection between my prayer and this email. 

Most likely, it’s just a coincidence. I’d say 99% likely.

But in my heart, I wish for the 1%, that it’s a way God’s telling me that BIL is all right, that he forgives us for not being the family he deserved, that he’s praying for us.

Please pray for my MIL as she negotiates insurance and repairs. And please pray for BIL too.


  1. Scott

    The good news is that she wasn’t in the house when this all happened and she’s okay physically. (Emotionally, I’m sure is another story, but that’s why your husband’s there to support her.)

    Just be strong for him too, cause I’m sure he can use the support as well.

    As far as support for you….it looks like you have a whole forum-load of support if you ask.

    Good luck

  2. Scott


    I wanted to know how your mother-in-law is doing. I hope is all with her and her house.

    Also, when you have a chance, please shoot me an email with your email. I would definitely love to catch up.

    Talk to you later,

  3. philangelus

    Email sent.

    She’s been doing okay, still housed at a hotel, having to battle stupid and lazy contractors. If you’re ever in her area (unlikely) and need a contractor, I’ll happily tell you which one to avoid.