As I woke early Wednesday morning, I noticed Deanna's concerned expression as she looked at her cell phone. While she's been very busy these past few months starting a business, she's not one to initiate phone calls before she's even gotten out of bed. I walked downstairs and three minutes later she did the same. But this time, her expression had turned to heartbreak and pain.
Overnight, seven of her young cousins had perished in a house fire. It is moments like this when you become most conscious of the limits of language. Words become shamefully small -- almost absurd. So you do what you can -- you hold; you support; you love; you grieve with them.
And in the face of this incredible tragedy, a family in shock began pulling itself together to support two parents reeling from loss beyond imagination.
Less than 24 hours after these children lost their lives, members of Westboro Baptist Church announced they would protest the children's memorial. Thankfully, they did not show up -- it was just another opportunity for them to use others' pain to advance their own litigation agenda.
Today, they laid their children to rest.
I have one purpose in writing this piece today: to unashamedly ask each of you to help the Clouse family rebuild their home and their lives in the face of pain and loss that most of us cannot fathom. I don't care if it's $3 dollars or $3000, please do something.
The easiest way to make a contribution is to use PayPal and send a donation to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, click this button (you don't need a PayPal account):
If you prefer to contribute by mail, please send it to:
Clouse Fire Relief Fund
c/o Bank of Landisburg
P.O. Box 179
Landisburg, PA 17040
Thank you so much for your support.
Editor's note: Money donated to this fund will go toward paying for the seven funerals of the children who died in this fire, as well as toward rebuilding costs for the family's farm.