Blue Devils Digest

A Memory I Can't Forget By Al Hager


          Ash, a bloody handprint, and a warbled headlight. This is what I saw the day I returned home from my first summer vacation. It was July, the summer before I started middle school, and I lost one of my homes. That sounds really pretentious. Let me rephrase that. My mom, my older sister, my stepdad, my grandpa, my seven animals and I lost our home. July 8th, 2013, 2:30 am, a faulty fan sparked and caught fire in my next-door neighbor's nursery. The flames overtook their home; fleeing the house, leaving their puppy caged in the basement, parents of a quickly fading newborn began pounding fists on doors. Bloody handprints. Due to the Riverside houses being so close together, the fire easily spread. The roof of my house lit like a match consuming my grandpa's upstairs apartment. My entire family was evacuated, luckily with no serious injuries. We only lost our cat for a few months. But, I wasn't there. My dad and I were at Canada’s Wonderland going on The Sledgehammer for a third time before heading home after a fun-filled weekend. When I got back to my hometown, Buffalo, my dad said that I had to go to my oldest sister’s house, after he had a quiet phone call with my mom. Unhappy because I was twelve and hadn’t slept all weekend, I complained saying that I wanted to go home to my mom’s house. As I walked in the door of my sister's house I felt the tight air. My mom pulled me onto an upstairs patio overlooking the street, and I could see the tired in her eyes. When she told me that the house burned down, I didn't cry; this was rare because I was always a crier. I looked up into the clear night sky and just stared. The day I saw the house again is a hazy memory. We went to collect things from the house that could be salvaged. My mom’s car still sat in the driveway, looked melted. I learned that the ceiling in my room, a room that was meant to be a dining room, had collapsed from the water in the house from the fire hoses. When you walked, the old black carpet squelched. It was spotted with white ash and fallen insulation. Looters saw the opportunity of an open home and had already stolen a few things. When I think about this time in my life, it feels so distant and far away from the person I am today. It feels unrealistic. Sometimes I forget that it even happened. A few months ago, I was watching a conspiracy t heorist talk about the Woolsey fires in California and how it devastated so many homes in the Calabasas area. Part of the video featured him and his crew walking by houses that were burned to the ground or just looked like burnt marshmallows. I thought to myself, “Huh that must be so awful to lose your home.” before I realized, I already had. When I try to reflect on this time in my young life I can only think about how much I hated that house. That was the house where I had no privacy because my bedroom was a dining room and a curtain. That was the house where when my mom couldn’t afford to pay the water bill she would place buckets outside and pray for rain. I took all of my showers at my dad’s house and had no idea why. When people learn that my house burned down they express so much sympathy, but all I have to say is, “ I wasn’t there”, “I hated that place”, or “Someone stole my 3DS while we weren’t allowed in the house.” The only way I care about that house is thinking about my sister and my mom. My family was so important to me as a young kid, and nothing would’ve been right had anything happened to them. I think about all the things that could have been different had they been injured or worse. No nieces from my sister, no acceptance from my mother. Luckily, we are in a much better situation now, but I still think about my family and the trauma they must hold in their hearts. I may be able to forget, but I know they can’t.




Jay Kinde and Al Hager

Web Design, Staff Writer

Zachary Hooton


Dominique Eubanks,

El Richards,

Erin Zeller,

Jesse Waldron,

Jill Lickers,

Juliette Falzone,

Maddie Crispin

Mark Bogacki,

Oliver Pitcher ,

Rakan Bousag,

Rebekah Davidson,

Blue Devils Digest

Student Run Newspaper of Kenmore West

A Memory I Can't Forget By Al Hager
A Memory I Can't Forget By Al Hager
A Memory I Can't Forget By Al Hager