I know that Thanksgiving is over, and now is the time to be thinking about Christmas, but this weekend, I really have been extremely thankful for all the little Blessings that God has granted me.
This hasn’t been the most wonderful year, I have missed my dad so terribly… It’s a shame that our time was cut short and so suddenly, but it just makes me cherish the moments I did have with him… It could have been something completely different… I could have never forgave him and never developed that relationship with him, and for that I am so very Grateful!
Then there is my husband’s cousin who, by the Grace of God is still here with us today. He found out that he had brain cancer, so advance that there wasn’t a stage for it, and through a short amount of time, like 5 months!, he is on his way of being cured!!! Praise God!! You can read about his story here if you would like: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/scotthembree It’s been amazing to read about his journey! and Thanks to his wonderful wife who has done nothing but love her husband completely…. that in itself has been amazing to watch!
Then there is a little specail baby that I have been Blessed with – Thank you Jason for allowing me to baby sit her! Here is her story:
THE STAR PRESS
At seven months of age, Elysah Tracy is the very picture of a healthy baby girl, chubby-cheeked with sky-blue eyes, a quick smile that frames two pearly little teeth, and a jumpy energy just itching to abandon the confines of her plastic walker for a better look at the world.
She’s also a miracle.
Elysah was only two weeks old last April when she survived a Sunday-morning fire in her parents’ home that killed her 27-year-old mother, Erin Williams, who was a 1999 Wes-Del High School graduate and licensed practical nurse; the baby’s brothers, Brisyn and Brydin Tracy, ages 4 and 2, respectively; and her father, Barry Tracy, who was also 27.
Soot-stained and suffering from smoke inhalation, Elysah was rushed to Riley , where she was treated for six days before being released to the care of her uncle and aunt, Jason and Roanna Williams.
“She’s excellent,” said Jason, a former Daleville resident who now works as a Henry County sheriff’s deputy. “Couldn’t be any better. … To come from that to where she is today, that is definitely a miracle.”
As Jason talked, Elysah was being cuddled by his wife, Roanna, a New Castle optician.
“She’s a beautiful little girl,” she said, a trifle wistfully, adding that the child is a daily reminder of her late sister-in-law. “Oh, there’s a big resemblance. She’s a spitting image of her mom. … I just think she’s going to be really bubbly, a lot like Erin.”
Her comments reflected the deep feelings of a family that has known incredible loss.
“But I think everybody is coming to terms with this,” Jason said.
Roanna agreed. “The biggest thing for me is just missing Erin and the boys.”
During this, the Williamses’ first Thanksgiving without them all, the poignancy of last April’s tragedy seems especially sharp.
“There are going to be some moments when it’s tough,” Jason said, in anticipation of the holiday, then looked to where his wife and Elysah were playing. “But having her helps a lot.”
Jason’s brother, Jamie Williams, who was 12 years older than his sister, Erin, tried to describe just how meaningful the child’s survival was for the family.
“It’s like my sister is getting a second chance at life,” the Alexandria man said.
A look back at tragedy
The morning of the fire, two bystanders kicked in the home’s back door in an attempt to rescue those inside, but were thwarted by the heat and smoke. Eventually, firefighters, officers and EMTs from 14 public safety agencies were dispatched to what, to any trained eye, was an ominous scene.
Amidst all this, the Williamses, who live in New Castle, received a call informing them that Erin’s house was on fire, and that things looked bleak.
“You know looking at something like that, that it’s not good,” reflected Jason, who is a veteran K-9 officer. “I deal with other people’s tragedies every day. But when it hits your family … then it’s totally different.”
Arriving just two minutes after receiving the alarm, firemen from the Alexandria Fire Departmentsent a rescue crew through the fire-ravaged home. The first four victims were found in its two bedroom areas, but Elysah was missed on their first pass. After a neighbor alerted firemen that an infant was still inside, they made another sweep and found her.
Brydin died soon after at Anderson’s Community Hospital. Erin, Barry and Brisyn died later in Indianapolis hospitals.
In 20 years of fire-fighting, Chief Bruce Waters said, this was the toughest run he ever made.
“Horrific” was the word he used.
“That was the worst experience that any of us had ever had,” he said of the fatal fire, the cause of which remains undetermined. “Sometimes, that’s just the way that things are.”
Yet, on two occasions since then, Jamie has brought Elysah to visit the firemen who rescued her from her devastated house, visits that boost their spirits.
The most recent time was a couple of weeks ago.
“It was pretty cool,” Jamie recalled. “They were very, very excited. … She’s a super, super, good baby.”
“We just couldn’t believe how well she’s doing,” Waters said, with delight in his voice. “It did our guys a lot of good. … It’s part of our healing. We want to watch her grow up, too.”
Seeing the thriving child was an all-too-rare reward for the dangerous work they do.
“I guess we all kind of feel a sense of pride,” the chief said.
Still, though, sometimes a firefighter’s opportunity to do good, to save that homeowner, to rescue that child, seems to hinge on something beyond the training and courage it takes for a person to head inside a burning building.
“The outcomes are what they are,” he said.
Elysah’s rescue and survival?
“The logical reason?” Waters said. “It is through the grace of God.”
A reason for thanks
That’s a thought that really hits home this week, when you watch that adorable little girl playing, laughing, even slobbering in the joyful way that babies do.
“It’s obviously a great thing,” said Jamie, who noted that only recently has he been able to revisit the scene of the fire that killed his sister and most of her family.
“There are definitely a lot of things to be thankful for,” said Jason, while his stepdaughters — Elysah’s new big sisters, Roanna’s teenage daughters Katie and Kim Helderbrand — watched Elysah enthusiastically gumming a stuffed, orange, Tigger doll.
From the start, folks aware of the child’s story have supported the family.
“There are a lot of good people out there,” Jason said, expressing thanks for all of them, including Roanna’s co-workers and his friends at the Henry County Courthouse, who have helped them cope with the fire and its aftermath.
As soon as Elysah came into their home, he noted, they were inundated with baby food, baby clothes and more — things that, as the baby now outgrows them, they are passing along to others.
“It was unbelievable, the amount of generosity,” Roanna recalled of the assistance. “It was the kind of thing you read about and hear about.”
Still, in the matter of giving, Jason makes the case that his sister, Erin, gave the ultimate gift that a mother can give her child.
When the firemen entered her home that horrible day, it seems likely the reason they didn’t find Elysah on the first sweep was that Erin had placed her baby on the floor and covered her with blankets.
“I don’t know if it was a premonition that (Erin) wasn’t going to make it out,” Jason said.
But he does believe that breathing through those blankets saved Elysah’s life.
“The air she was getting was filtered,” he said of the child, and what his sister, a nurse whose life was helping others, did for Elysah in her final moments. “The last life she saved was her daughter.”
Contact John Carlson at 213-5824.”
I believe that God allows Miracles to happen every single day…. It’s just our job to see them for what they are. My life has been Blessed, I receive gifts and I acknowledge them for what they are. I don’t try to think about it too much, because when I do, I am consumed with the knowledge of how powerful and wonderful my Lord is, and I know that I am not deserving of them, or of his Love for me…. It shames me at times and I know, that it’s through His Grace alone that I am Blessed, not because of my actions or my deeds, because I know that I am not worthy of them….
I hope that this Holiday Season that you really take the time to look around you and see all the gifts you have been blessed with….. It may not have been the best year for me, but in this year I have been Blessed in more ways then I could even count!