Warning: long, but important post! And I’m writing on the IPhone, so apologize for autocorrections.
It had been the first sunny day in Kramatorsk since our arrival. The sidewalks and streets were finally viewable leaving little remnants of the foot of snow that lay for nearly 3 weeks. We were happy to see the sun and ready to go see Roman. About 15 minutes prior to leaving for our morning visit with him, Olga called to tell us that Roman and the other children in his room had come down with what was suspected to be the flu as their symptoms were high fever and sore throat. So, we were asked to forego our visits for the day. I was sad that I could not be the one to nurture Roman back to health, but thankful that he is where he can receive immediate treatment.
We ventured out on the town to explore it on foot. Then, we spent the rest of the day lounging back at the hotel, allowing Crawford time to to do school work. When evening fell upon us, we went to our usual pizza pit stop, stuffed our faces, and went to bed early around 9pm. A few hours later, Dustin and I began tossing and turning to a bunch of clamor outside. I heard a few “pops” and then there were a few men yelling to one another in Russian. We both assumed it was a couple of drunks causing a ruckus. I heard what sounded like a large-sized vehicle pull up with a short siren sound followed by more yelling in Russian. I decided I’d had enough and peered out the window to take a look. There sat a fire truck with its lights turning. I turned to Dustin and said, “Honey, there’s a fire truck outside our building!” Then came the knock on our door along with more yelling in Russian in the hallways. I hurried to our door only to open it to a smoke-filled hallway. Shock and adrenaline took over me. I alerted Dustin. He told me to get Crawford and get out; he would get our belongings (i.e, passports!). I grabbed Crawford and held him tightly, grabbed our coats, and briefly stared at my lace up boots thinking how much time I’d waste trying to get them on. So, i rushed out the door shoeless with Crawford in tow. We got halfway down the hall when I turned and yelled to Dustin, “Get the belts!” My heart tore inside as I feared that that might be the last time I would see my husband, but I knew I had to get Crawford out of there. We made it to the stairwell. People hurried down the steps both in front and behind us. More yelling in Russian, but this time in a more worried tone. It’s probably a good thing I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Six flights to go and the smoke grows more opaque with each floor; it smells of burning metal, plastic and Lord knows what else. Not knowing the severity and location of the fire, I worried what awaited us on the other side of each door we opened to get to the next corridor. The mob of people begins to slow as my baby continues to inhale more smoke and I yell, “I have a child!” A few people began making way for us when they saw Crawford in my arms. We finally make it to the lobby. Some of the hostesses help us along. Crawford and I waited what seemed like an eternity for Dustin to appear. My feet bare on the cold, dirty concrete. My body succumbed to quivers as I stood there in disbelief. Finally, Dustin arrived. We hugged a long hug. Now, I have everything I need and truly care about. The hotel staff tried to get us to come back in where it’s warm. It took some time to convince me that it was safe to re-enter the building. After all, they had no smoke alarms throughout the building, but instead they had people simply knocking on doors – thank God we were awake to hear it!
We took turns going outside to breathe fresh air. We saw a large plume of smoke floating away from the backside of the building. Then, a model 1950 fire truck went shooting by with sirens a blazing. I’m thinking this has got to be a dream. We set up camp on the lobby couch. The staff was very sweet and offered Crawford two wool blankets and water. Everyone was so concerned about him being too cold. Dustin gave me his shoes to wear.
In the meantime, we called Olga because we weren’t sure if we would even HAVE a room to return to. She was worried sick for us and called the hotel to find out what was going on. Apparently, the sauna on the ground floor caught fire due to electrical problems. Olga was very helpful insisting that we stay with them and waited till the weee hours of the morning to let her know if we wanted to sleep at their apartment for the night. The problem was our room contained many important belongings, and we needed to wait to see if we could retrieve them.
A few hours later, the fire department was able to put the fire out entirely. After a few trips to ventilate the rooms and after the fire department’s approval that it was safe, we returned to our room. We slept with the windows open for extra ventilation. There’s a slight smokiness to the hotel, but the stinge is getting better. If you wanna smoke some meats though, Hotel Kramatorsk is the place to be! We are all safe and doing well. Crawford has been doing great providing us with moments of humor when anxiety has been running high. One comment he made about the smokey aroma was, “Hey, we can cook hotdogs tonight!”
Despite our crazy night, I was allowed to see Roman for about ten minutes this morning! He is doing better, but still has a high temperature , so the doctors are dissuading us from visiting for another day. He snuggled with me while I sang him the ABC song. I told him that I loved him in Russian, and I think he liked it. 🙂 I love that boy!
The events that unfolded over the last 24 hours were less than ideal, but one more humbling reminder that this life we live is such a fragile one. Hold your family tight and cherish every moment! So much love to you all! We miss everyone so much!