Thursday, December 11, 2008

Light a candle

I went downstairs into the basement last night, as the water was running upstairs. I was standing near the hot water heater as it kicked in… and I smelled gas.

I froze. I sniffed, & sniffed some more. Went upstairs, went back down, & sniffed again. The smell was gone.

Brought dh downstairs. He couldn't smell anything. But still… better safe than sorry, especially when it comes to gas. We knew we had to have it looked at. Sooner, rather than later.
But… it was already past 5:30, & we were due at our support group's annual memorial candlelighting at 7:30. (We've only missed two in the last 10 years, I think -- one very early on, the first or second year we attended group, and two year ago, when the date coincided with the retirement party for my office best friend & coworker of 16 years.) Many of our friends, current and former clients were going to be there, some we hadn't seen in awhile, and we had been so looking forward to it.

With fear, trepidation & some reluctance, I made the call to the gas company at 5:40. The customer service rep told me to open some windows, & not to turn on any (more) lights, appliances, or anything that might cause a spark (including the telephone)(!), and someone would be there "as soon as possible" to check things out.

I pulled on my coat, hat & boots, grabbed my cellphone & went outside into the frigid (-5C) night air to stand at the end of our driveway and call our co-facilitator. (And wondered what the neighbours might be thinking…!) Told her we likely weren't going to be able to make it & why, & would she light a candle for Katie on our behalf? She said of course.

He finally showed up at 6:45. I described what I had noticed to him. "Oh, that's normal," he said. "The hot water heater is open at the bottom, so when the gas comes on, it sometimes sends up a little *poof* but then it dissipates."

I felt a little foolish (who knew??)(I hadn't noticed it before, in the 18+ years we've lived in this house… but then again, I don't spend a lot of time in the furnace room…!), but I showed him downstairs. He applied a soap & water solution to all the piping joints (on the furnace too for good measure, even though we just had it serviced last month), to see whether any bubbles formed (bubbles = leak) & took a reading for both natural gas and carbon monoxide. All was well. He was out of the house again by 7.

Dh turned to me with a grin. "If we hurry," he said, "we can probably still make it for coffee." We threw some leftovers into the microwave, wolfed them down, dashed upstairs to change & brush our teeth, were in the car by 7:20 & pulled up in front of the mid-city church, where the event was being held in the basement, at 7:45.

They had just started. We picked up a candle at the welcome table, crept in as quietly as we could and sat down at the end of the row where our co-facilitator sat with her two children, whom we've watched grow up in the six years since she started coming to the group after the premature loss of her baby. The expression on her 12-year-old daughter's face was priceless -- her eyes & mouth widened in surprise, & then she smiled & waved at us. It was so cute, and so touching to know that she was glad to see us.

So we got to light a candle for our Katie after all. And enjoyed coffee, goodies and good conversation with new and old friends and clients afterwards.

And I will light a candle for you.
To shatter all the darkness and bless the times we knew.
Like a beacon in the night
The flame will burn bright and guide us on our way.
Oh, today I light a candle for you.

-- "Light a Candle" by Paul Alexander

(This song is always played at our candlelighting service, just before the actual candlelighting begins. A harpist, who donates her services, plays in the background as we light our candles, place them in a holder in a wreath, and say our babies' names.)


  1. glad you go to light your candle.

    hope everything is ok at home.

  2. Glad that it wasn't a gas leak and that you got to the candlelighting.

  3. Lori!

    I've been taking a class which includes following blogs of my choice, and remembered yours, thankfully. I'm glad to hear that it wasn't a gas leak. We dealt with that several years ago and spent the better part of a Sunday afternoon/evening evacuated in a huge city vehicle as they were figuring out where the leak was, which was between our house and the neighbor's. The rest of that night was spent listening to the workers' equipment (just outside of our bedroom window) and our dog barking from the intrusion.

    What a wonderful ending to your story that you were able to light a candle for Katie.

    I think of you girls often!


  4. What a night. Glad you made it. I would have reacted the same way about the gas. Here's to your daughter.

  5. Jan!! SO good to hear from you!! We miss you!!

  6. Oh Phew. And I'm so glad you got there in time.

    Nothing like the smell of gas to jangle the nerves a bit more, eh?

    I'll be thinking of Katie as well, on Sunday here.

  7. The smell of gas is never a good sign. Relieved to know everything at home is okay.

    Also happy to know you made the service, that you and dh honoured Katie in this way, as you had planned.