Thursday, November 30, 2006

Burnt Out

My best friend Kate left a haunting message on my answering machine this morning, as I was rushing to get my daughter ready for her dentist appointment. Her mom’s house, the house she grew up in, burnt down last night. Thankfully, she told me that everyone was okay.

Kate’s mentally and physically disabled older brother, Dan, set the house on fire shortly after his home health care nurse left for the day. He threw something into his bedroom trash can and started a blaze that would have probably killed him if his older brother, Fran, didn’t hear the smoke detector alarm from his downstairs apartment.

Fran had to physically pull Dan’s shirt and insist that they leave, as Dan resisted in the other direction.

I walked through what was left of their home this afternoon. It smelled charred and candles were melted to the wall. Everything was covered in soot. All of the windows had been broken by firemen, the floor was soaked, the ceiling was busted and the furniture was destroyed. The whole scene made me nauseous.

They had lots of Christmas presents stashed in closets and a brand new computer.
Now, they have nothing.

I feel like a lost a piece of my childhood, so I cannot imagine how they must feel about losing their home.

Kate’s mom stayed with her family last night. Fran stayed with his cousin’s family. Dan spent the night in the hospital for smoke inhalation. He will probably need to be placed in round the clock care, as he is a danger to himself and his family. He is no longer functional.

His illness has gradually progressed, making him socially inappropriate, and a stranger to the toilet and remembering to chew his own food. He has been diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia, which was brought on by MS. All I know is that the mind of my best friend’s handsome, blonde-haired, golden-eyed older brother, who used to bully me as a kid, and flirt with me as adult, has evaporated.

One afternoon after elementary school, I was twirling a baton in the front yard with Kate, when Dan came home from high school. Dan decided to pick me up and carry me to the empty trash can at the curb. He put me into the empty can and then proceeded to sit on the lid until I screamed and begged for him to let me out.

Dan told on us when he caught us smoking for the first time as teenagers.

I danced with Dan, who was seemingly still normal and healthy, at Kate’s wedding five years ago, while he kept an eye on my cleavage. He even asked me to go out to the parking lot with him, as our spouses watched him give me a twirl. I pretended that I didn’t hear him.

His current state makes me sad. He is only 39-years-old and he is almost completely lost.

His family is distressed. They have assisted him as much as possible, while his abilities have wasted away. He was a carpenter. He was very skilled with his hands.

He became addicted to cocaine after using various recreational drugs for several years. His family staged interventions and tried getting him into treatment. I believe that drug abuse stole most of his faculties, as well as his dignity.

I hope to be able to provide emotional support for my best friend and her family.

3 comments:

Matt-Man said...

Sad...Good Luck to you and their family, Jess.

Melissa said...

I think fire is probably one of my greatest fears. Scary. Good luck being there for your friend.

jbgrinch said...

my mom is suffering from the same problem and is mostly gone now. I know that at soem point my dad will have to do what your friends just did. my thoughts and prayers are with them