On the afternoon of Sunday, November 23rd, 2014, a bullet flew through our house. We don’t live in a high violence area. We don’t even live in a city. We live on a quiet street out in the country where nothing exciting EVER happens. Until that day.
It was a nice day to go outside and hang Christmas lights we thought. It was our first holiday season in our new home, so we needed to figure out how to make our new house look festive. While my husband and I sorted out strands of lights, our two boys played on their scooters in the driveway. Once we had a game plan, my husband went up on the roof and starting stringing lights. I stayed on the ground and wrapped our little trees in lights. In the distance, we could hear gunshots. That was normal in our area. There are plenty of woods around and it was hunting season. But these gunshots…sounded a little close. But we thought nothing of it. After one particular gunshot, I heard a whizzing noise followed by a quiet shatter-like sound. I looked around…nothing. I asked my husband if he was being noisy on the roof…he wasn’t. I shrugged and carried on. About 15 minutes later, my husband asked if I could run inside and grab some duct tape.
That’s when I saw a hole in our side window.
I didn’t go over because I had shoes on, so I just went back outside and asked my husband if he knew there was a hole in our side window. He said no, came down from the roof, and we stared at this baseball sized hole. We discussed the possibility of a ball hitting it, but the boys didn’t play on that side of the house. Then I half-jokingly asked if it was possible that a bullet from that loud gunshot we heard actually hit our house. So, we went inside and sure enough…there was a bullet sized hole in our window screen and debris all over our dining room table. We stood there in disbelief.
After we were pretty certain that’s what happened, we called the non-emergency police line and they sent out an officer. When the officer arrived, we told him what we thought, he checked things out and agreed that it was a possibility, but…did we find a bullet? We had not. So, we let him check out the house and after about 10 minutes, we heard him say… “No…way!”. He found it. Then HE stood there in disbelief. There was a small dent in our wall on the other side of the house, and the bullet was there on the floor below.
We broke down.
Your home is supposed to be a safe place. A place where you feel absolutely at ease and protected. This bullet entered a window right beside our dining room table where our kids eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. It flew across our living room where we all sit and watch TV as a family. It travelled through the area of our house where we spend the majority of our time. We so EASILY could have been in our house that afternoon and in its path. All of the “what-ifs” go through your mind in that moment. In fact, it was so emotional, the officer – who had young children of his own – actually sat down and called his wife to tell her what was happening while we waited for another officer to arrive.
After a short investigation, we learned this bullet came from people doing target practice in their backyard on a road not anywhere near us. They weren’t doing anything illegal, they had proper licensing, but this particular bullet just somehow ricocheted off a target, through the woods, over the river, right past the houses across the road from us and into our home. It was called a “freak accident”.
That night, our quiet little road turned into flashing police lights and a forensic van. My parents came and took the boys out for supper, and my husband and I went outside so forensics could their job. We had nothing else to do, so we finished putting up our Christmas lights while lights flashed around us and neighbours likely stared. We must have looked insane.
When we went back inside, we noticed a little piece of forensic tape next to the dent in our wall. We didn’t know if they needed to come back for more evidence, so we left it there. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. Months have now turned into years. That little piece of forensic tape is still there.
I don’t really know why we never took it down. Maybe we simply forgot about it. Maybe it’s because we think it’s an interesting conversation piece. Or maybe…it’s there to remind us just how lucky we were that day. We know it could have easily ended differently. We hugged our boys a little tighter that night. We hugged each other a little tighter that night. And to this day, gunshots in the distance still make us cringe.
Over the last couple of years, we joked about framing the dent and that little piece of tape. So last Christmas, I bought my husband a frame. Some people asked why we would want to frame a reminder of something so horrible. But to us, it’s the opposite.
That frame is a reminder of how our lives could have changed that day, but didn’t. We’re all here. We’re all safe.
That frame is a reminder of how the only thing that bullet harmed was one window and a small section of our wall. Not anything important or irreplaceable.
That frame is a reminder of how happy, grateful and relieved I am that we chose that particular afternoon to go outside and hang Christmas lights.
Looking back, it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Author: Linsey De Ruysscher
Linsey is a happily married mother of two living in Plainfield, ON. When she’s not busy chasing her two crazy boys, she’s running her own freelance writing company, Little Miss Creative. In her downtime, she enjoys tea, backyard BBQs, watching Friends reruns, and hanging out with her family and friends. Oh, and candy.