All yesterday afternoon, I smelled something that had the aroma of a dead mouse. Considering we live a quarter mile from an expanse of fields, it is common for us to hear and even see mice scampering in our house and around our yard. Sometimes, our traps catch them. We then follow our noses to the carcasses, and we have to take them outside to the garbage. This time, however, was different.
The smell permeated the house and I could not pinpoint the source of the malodorous stench. At about 9:30 PM, watching television, something suddenly said, “Go check the stove.” Without thinking I got up, and there on the far right face of the stove was one knob turned slightly to the left. The gas had been on all afternoon in a house with two smokers. Thankfully, we don’t smoke in the house. Thankfully, we regularly keep the doors open to get cross-ventilation and to let Diego, our dog, wander in and out. Thankfully, there was not enough gas escaping through the patio door to cause an explosion when we lit a cigarette on the lanai. Thankfully, we hadn’t closed up the house for bed yet to go to sleep. Thankfully, the three of us didn’t die last night.
What inspired me to check the stove? Not one time during the day had I even considered that what I smelled was gas. David had stopped smelling it completely, which is scary enough to think about. The truth is that if I had not gotten up to check in the kitchen, we could have just as easily closed the patio and bedroom doors to the outside, turned off the lights, and slept with the gas filling our house all night long. We have great neighbors, so I know that when they hadn’t heard or seen us for a couple of days, they would have called the police. Likely, had the cell phone or home phone rung, they wouldn’t have had a question as to where we were; our house may have gone up like a nuclear explosion. David, Diego, and I would have been nothing but a memory.
As often happens to many of us, there was a wee voice that whispered in my ear that pushed the alarm button and sent me to the right place to avoid tragedy. Many parents can relate the experience of “knowing something is wrong with my child.” The experiences have no basis in knowledge, though. They are our intuitive leaps that keep us connected to our loved ones. Perhaps, they are the voices of those who have left our planet who act as our guardian angels protecting us, whispering to us to keep us safe. In this case, it feels like my mother guided me to get out of my comfortable bed to find the source of danger. Her voice alone would get me to do what I did not want to otherwise do.
Some may say that I am being melodramatic in the “what if” contemplation of yesterday’s alternative events. They may be right; however, we read about events just like this in the news. Could this morning have been very different for our family and friends?
The voices we hear, whether we believe that they are our family members from beyond the grave, our astute intuition, or simply our active imagination, are often the source of life-changing opportunities to alter the future. This was just such an example. Once again, I have an opportunity to express my gratitude for another day of loving and living, and that my family continues to be well. I have learned over the years to listen to that small voice and yesterday was a testament to that fact. Without reckoning the reasonability of my actions, I got up to check the stove, and my family is now alive to tell the story.
Once, 30 years ago, my former wife was sleeping in the living room with my children, taking a nap in the middle of a hot day with the air conditioning running. I arrived home from work to an horrific smell in the house. For some reason, I immediately recognized the smell as gas. I went to the kitchen, turned off the stove, and revived my wife and children. They had likely passed out from the gas since my ex-wife has no sense of smell. They awoke feeling “weird.” Within a few weeks, we had completely changed over to all electric appliances.
I believe everything is for a reason, even if it is simply the reason we give it. The purpose I see in this event reminds me that I am still connected with those I love who have gone before me to find their place in the larger Universal order. I recall that I must remain focused on my journey here to serve those who need me. Finally, I must live in gratitude to God for my life, always looking forward, because without warning, it could all just end.