“You did a great job, Captain Cushing,” he says, “but two of those three people you pulled out didn’t make it.”
“No!” I cry. “They’re all alive!”
“I’m sorry, Cushing.”
Suddenly I awoke in a drenching sweat, my heart racing. My wife, Rosemary, was awake too, staring at me. “Honey, what’s wrong?” she asked. “You were shouting.”
“Nothing,” I mumbled, focusing my eyes. The clock read 4:30 A.M. “Just a bad dream.” I fell back on my pillow. I had to get some rest. The following day was Christmas Eve, and I was scheduled for duty.
I was assigned to a single firehouse that quartered Engine 91, a hose company. In Chicago, firemen work three successive 24-hour shifts, living at the firehouse during that time. I’d have under my command three firefighters and an engineer to monitor the equipment. I was a little nervous. Because of all the holiday leaves, my company had some unseasoned men. I hoped nothing major developed.
By the time I arrived at work the next morning, I’d completely forgotten about the dream. In fact, I was happy to find out that my relief engineer had just been promoted, so he must not have been quite as unseasoned as I had feared. Still, I was apprehensive. The holidays are a busy time for firefighters. People get careless during all the excitement. God, I prayed, watch over our city on this wonderful night.
The shift passed uneventfully. Then, one minute before Christmas Day, an alarm came in. We manned the engine and roared out of the garage, our siren piercing the night. The blaze was only a half-mile from the firehouse, on North Drake Avenue. We were a block away when I spotted smoke. The fire was raging through an old frame house. I called in a second alarm for more equipment and a chief.
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The Christmas Clock
It was December 2012, a week before Christmas. I was sitting alone at my kitchen table in Missouri, watching the hands of my Christmas clock tick toward the hour. I was waiting to hear it play “Silent Night,” which it did every night at 11 o’clock. The tune always lifted my spirits. But the second hand passed the hour mark without a peep. My heart sank. The music mechanism must have broken. You couldn’t have picked a better metaphor for my life—I kept on ticking, but the joy was missing.
Q&A: William Peters
A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE HEALING POWER OF SHARED DEATH EXPERIENCES
We were only 48 hours into our family’s three-week road trip when the car broke down. White smoke billowed from the engine. The dashboard warning lights went on.
“I saw a butterfly,” my mother said with a shy smile. It was the first time I’d seen her smile since my father’s death the week before. After a seven-year period of steadily declining health, he’d passed away in his bed at home, surrounded by his wife and three daughters. It was a peaceful end to his suffering, but saying goodbye was still difficult. We all missed him terribly. Especially Mami.
Wings and a Prayer
I heard the front door to our apartment open and walked over to see my mom returning home from the laundromat. She had tears in her eyes.
It was a sunny October day. My husband, Anthony, and I sat with our three kids—Ella, seven; Luca, five; and Zoe, two—as they drew with sidewalk chalk in the driveway. The whole family was enjoying the last bit of nice weather before the winter. Everything felt warm and peaceful.
Secrets of the Labyrinth
I WAS AT THE ENTRY OF Battery Park’s Labyrinth of Contemplation in New York City. A winding pathway of rocks and grass stretched out before me. After studying labyrinths for weeks, I wanted to try one. I’d learned that these fantastical, circuitous pathways can act as prayer tools, helping calm the mind and soul. I sure needed that. Beyond this quiet park, the city had been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Though cases were down and things seemed to be improving, I still felt overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. Will I find the spiritual comfort I’m looking for? I wondered. Adjusting my face mask, I took a deep breath and began….
An Unexpected Visitor
I couldn’t even sort through the first box of our dog Bama’s toys without bursting into tears. My husband, Alan, found me sitting on the floor in our utility room, clutching our late boxer’s favorite squeaky. He gently pulled me to my feet. “It’s okay, Lisa,” he said.
Whenever I think about the Transfiguration, my mind travels back to the fifth- and sixth-grade Sunday school class I once coached to act it out for the congregation. The task seemed nearly impossible.
I stepped out of the federal prison in South Dakota after a decade behind bars and breathed a sigh of relief. I’d served my time. But I wasn’t just free. I was a new man. Honestly, I doubted anyone who knew me before would recognize me. I hardly recognized me.
GETTING FAMOUS IN COINS
Donn Pearlman is the History of Coin Promotions
Playoff glories of yesteryear
It is January, which can only mean one thing: post season football is near. Some of the greatest performances in NFL playoff history have occurred right here in New York and New Jersey. Let’s take a look back at some of them
Things We Are After
Fresh and On Deck
Chicago's Hard Choices
Mayor Lori Lightfoot pushed through an austerity budget, alienating some progressives
Would the ACLU Still Defend Nazis' Right To March in Skokie?
Former Executive Director Ira Glasser discusses the past, present, and increasingly shaky future of free speech.
LEO SULLIVAN Q&A
QUESTION & ANSWERS
Push to ban blow-up rodent union uses to fight scabs
HOW KENNEDY STOLE THE WHITE HOUSE!
Chicago mob RIGGED 1960 vote & cheated Nixon out of presidency
For Now, Verizon's 5G Home Internet Service Offers Very Little Coverage
Verizon’s 5G Home service may be fast, but very few people can access it—even in the eight cities Verizon purports to serve. Since the company doesn’t offer a coverage map for its home service, we pumped more than 400 Chicago and Minneapolis addresses through the Verizon 5G Home address finder and discovered that the home service has even less coverage than the mobile service does.
A Chicago Press for the People
On September 24, 2009, sixteen-year-old student Derrion Albert was beaten to death outside of Christian Fenger Academy High School, on the South Side of Chicago, in broad daylight. Though there were many witnesses, one of whom captured the attack on cell-phone video, no one stepped in to help. The footage of the murder went viral, highlighting the severity of the city’s youth violence epidemic, as Albert was the third teenager killed in Chicago that month.