Today I have thought often about the life of Bob Lillis. Bob died in 2014 but as I worked at my desk today he came to mind and he has stayed on my heart most of today.
Here is his story from the newspaper….
The man killed Sunday in a house fire in Walker has been identified by officials as 66-year-old Robert Lillis Jr.
Officials with Walker Public Safety believe a kitchen appliance failure caused the fire inside the Needham Court home. A neighbor kicked in the door after seeing the fire and pulled Lillis, who used a wheelchair, out.
Calls came in at about 8 p.m. about the blaze, but Walker officials say the fire likely burned for several hours before that.
It took crews about 30 minutes to contain the fire after arriving on the scene.
An autopsy will be performed to determine Lillis’ cause of death.
I had the privilege to know Bob. We provided his in home care for many years. Bob died a tragic death and yet there is more to the story. Bob did not want to live in community. When he would find himself in rehab or in the hospital he wanted nothing more than to be home. He could have been in a residence where he would have been rescued if there was a fire, but in order to have that level of safety he would have lived a tragic life. I do not know Bob’s story well enough to understand why he resisted community with most everything in him, but I do know that his greatest joy was being home, even though he required care, was wheelchair bound and in the end died a tragic death.
I am struck by the senseless tragedies that seem to occur more frequently than I ever was aware of before. Some things are just plain tragic.
And I am also aware of things that appear tragic but if we consider more of the story, there be significant places of honor, strength, and courage amidst the tragedy. Bob Lillis’ death was marked as a tragic ending. I do not want to miss the chance to say yes, that is true and Bob lived a life of incredible struggle, perseverance and courage. He is a man who understood tragedy, struggle and the gift of life.
I want to be a woman who knows how to name the tragedy, sit in the pain and the questions that come with tragedy and in appropriate time consider the more to the story, honoring the courage, strength and life that can be honored in the midst of the tragedy.