I can't fall asleep. Today, our neighborhood was affected by the Columbia Gas explosions in Massachusetts—and I keep replaying the last few hours in my head over and over.
I'm just lying awake reading news story after news story, updating friends and family who are texting to let them know we're okay.
My babies are okay.
This afternoon, a few minutes before 5:00 pm, I heard a loud noise outside my house and a lot of commotion on our street. I smelt gas. My two big girls were watching the movie Brave and my 11-month-old was at the tail end of her much-needed cat nap. I was trying on a dress for a wedding. I poked my head out our front door to see what was going on and right before my eyes, chaos ensued.
I noticed the smoke in the air, and paired with the gas smell, I knew this wasn't good. I shouted to my neighbors next door, "Do we need to leave our home???" They shouted back, "Yes! Get out now!"
Get the babies. Get in the car. That's what I knew I needed to do. Focus, focus, mama.
I still didn't know what was going on, but I felt it—I knew this was bad and I knew I needed to get my babies out. I, as calmly as I could fake, told my big girls that we were going to go to Aunt Megan's for a visit and to "hold hands right here" while I ran and got the baby. I ripped the dress I was trying on off, threw clothes on that were strewn about nearby and quickly pulled my sleeping, confused baby out of her crib.
I scanned the kitchen to make sure I didn't leave anything on, and we bolted out to our car—no shoes, mishmoshed clothes, and only three diapers in my purse. A police officer in front of our house shouted, "Good! Get out of here!" as I buckled the baby into her seat with shaking hands. We live in the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts and decided we'd head to my sister's home in the town next door, North Andover.
She called me on our way over there and told us they were being evacuated too. The roads were crowded. I looked to my left to see firefighters working on a house near the intersection I take to my sisters. More panic set in.
But my babies were okay.
My babies were with me.
My sister and her crew headed north to her in-laws in New Hampshire, as we headed south to my sister and brother-in-laws 30 miles from our house. They ordered pizza. I watched the news. My husband finally got to us after work. I went to Marshall's to get some clothes for us, and shoes for me. I cried as I drove by myself, finally able to break down without my kids watching.
I took a deep breath.
This is a lot. This is scary.
But my babies are okay.
I am okay.
We have what we need—we have each other.
A house two doors down from us, where a local police officer and his beautiful family live—burnt to the ground. It burned for so long before firefighters could even get to it because of all the other explosions going on. My heart breaks for my neighbors—but I'm so grateful they are physically okay.
There have been a reported 70+ homes that have been affected by gas explosions and fires in our city, and our two neighboring towns, North Andover and Andover. National Grid turned the power out and we're unsure of when we will be able to safely return to our homes.
But my babies are okay.
Today was one of those unimaginable days that then become a reality.
So far, one mama's 18-year-old baby is not okay. A boy, in a house 1.4 miles from ours, died from the explosion at his home. I can't even fathom this. My heart breaks for his family, for their unimaginable pain and shock, and every ounce of love and prayers I have goes out to them.
My love and prayers go out to all the incredible, hard-working, brave first responders who are working tirelessly to make sure this is contained. They're amazing. Firefighters from all over New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts (and likely more areas) have banded together to fight this and to keep our community safe.
To keep my babies safe.
You never really think disaster is going to happen to you. Today it brushed way too close for comfort. It has rocked me to my core.
What if it were our house? I was home with all three babies. What if something happened to them? What if it happened through the night and everyone had been sleeping?
I can't answer these what if's. And they make my stomach turn even thinking of them.
So for now, I'll thank God and my lucky stars above that my babies are okay.
Today was overwhelming. And scary. And heartbreaking. It asked me to step up to the plate of motherhood—by pretending I was calm when I wasn't, by figuring out what to do because I was the adult in charge of three tiny humans, by making sure my babies were okay.
And they're okay.
My babies are okay.
And so, for right now, I guess I am too.