On Thanksgiving morning, November 24, 2005 our lives changed. Fernando
and I were woken up by the sounds of the doorbell and car alarms. Though we were groggy, we immediately headed for the
door to see what was going on. We found the neighbors on the first floor screaming with looks of terror on their faces.
We poked our heads outside to see that my car was completely engulfed in flames. We ran through the house to get
everyone out of bed and out of the house before the house caught fire. The fire and police soon arrived. They got the
fire under control before it put any serious damage on the house. After they put the fire out and found it safe to go
back into the house, they sent us all back in to go back to sleep.
Approximately 8:00 am, four hours after the fire that had scorched my
car, we headed outside to get newspapers for the next day's holiday promotions. We decided to remove articles from my
car that were not damaged and put them into his car. As I was gathering things from inside my car Fernando called out
to me "Cheri!?" with surprise in his voice. I replied "one second." I was one second too late. I heard a pop and then
him screaming I turned to see that his clothing was up in flames. I ran to him trying to get him to drop and roll, but
by the time I reached him he'd managed to pull his clothing off. Although the flames were still burning his bare skin.
I was running back and forth screaming call 911.
The fire department arrived moments later and immediately started tending to the
house that was now consumed by flames as well as his car. I stood in the front of the house and did a head count, I
suddenly realized Fernando was not there! The firemen were in a tizzy trying to figure which end to attend to first.
Without a second thought I covered my face and ran through the thick smoke to find Fernando standing behind the house.
His arm, neck and face scorched. I grabbed him and pulled him across
the street far enough away from the house to safety. He couldn't see anything.
The ambulance arrived a few minutes later and immediately transported him to Mass
General Hospital. I rode in the front with the driver as the EMTs worked on him. I kept reassuring him that he was going
to be ok and that I was not going anywhere. As soon as we arrived at the hospital I jumped out of the ambulance to be by
his side. He gripped my hand so tight. I held on until they had to separate us to work on him.
Fernando was put immediately put into a medically induced
coma. He suffered from 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his face neck and his arm. His eyes were burnt so badly that they were
not able to tell if he lost his vision or not. As he fought for his life in the ICU, day in and day out there I was
praying for his life to be saved. He is a very strong believer in God. Not too long before this he taught me Psalm 23,
which I recited (still do) every night before I went to sleep. I contacted different healers and asked for them all to
pray for his life to be saved. I would tell him, though they say he couldn't hear me, he had to pull through because God
brought us together for a reason.
As Christmas neared my family and friends kept asking me "What do you
want for Christmas?" I would reply, "All I want is my boyfriend out of ICU." My prayers were beginning to be answered as
Christmas arrived. Though he was not out of ICU, his health was no longer declining but improving. NEVER BEFORE in my
life DID I BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF PRAYER.
When Fernando finally awoke completely out of his coma it was January
1, 2006. He had various skin graft surgeries and is temporary blinded in one eye. I say "temporary" because the doctors'
say that, a cornea transplant can fix it. Though we are not sure of the cost that entails in the procedure. He hasn't
been able to work and his health insurance is limited.
Fernando was released from the hospital only to have gone back a few
months later for more reconstructive surgery. He has been in good spirits and thanks God for sparing his life and giving
him another chance.
Below I have listed a couple of links to news reports to from that horrible
day that will haunt our lives for a very long time: