We had a traumatic early morning at the Schwartz house on Sunday, 9/8/2019. Sandy and I awakened to piercing, incessant, screams. Wave upon wave, on and on. I jumped out of bed and out the bedroom door before identifying the screamer as Bri. My mind whirling, I dashed down the steps, trying to pinpoint the reason for the screams. Had she seen a cockroach? A mouse? Had she had a bad dream?
Bri had been sleeping on the couch in the living room. Earlier that morning, I had awakened around 3:00 a.m., gone down and ate a clementine from the fridge, turned off the dining room light, turned on the kitchen light, and gone back to bed and dreamland. Sandy had gone down a few minutes later to get a bottle for the little girl living with us, and had turned off the kitchen light and kept on the stove light.
Pounding down the steps, I arrived at the bottom and found Bri screaming, shaking, and yelling “There was a guy in the house! He just went running down the basement stairs!"
Adrenalin rush. A wave of blood sweeping through my system. We had four little children sleeping upstairs. We are friends of these children and of their mother, and they had been staying with us on alternating weeks for a season. Our other five children were sleeping in the basement!
I ran down the basement stairs. Avery and Ben were up. They looked dazed and disturbed… Yes Dad, there was a man who just ran through our bedroom and through the family room and out the back door! I ran through the basement and outside. Nobody there. Avery came out and I told him to get his electric scooter and go around the block to see if he can see anyone. I then ran around the back alley towards Givan Avenue. Nobody.
When I came back inside I went upstairs and Bri was with Sandy. Through the gracious hand of God, Bri had been awakened by a dream just before the incident. It was a bad dream, a dream in which someone was coming in the house and she was yelling at the guy. So she woke up and lay there on the couch. Wait. There is a guy walking up the basement steps. The guy came up the steps and stepped into the living room. At first she thought it was Avery. When she realized it was not Avery she started screaming. The guy ran over and tried to hold her mouth shut and put his hands on her. It was terrible. She yelled and fought him off, so the guy ran to the basement door, down the stairs, and out the back door, leaving Bri with some cuts on her face and a bloody lip. Avery and Ben both saw the guy run through their bedroom on the way to the back door. They had just been awakened by Bri’s screams, and this guy came running through their room.
A burglary is one thing. Having a man come into my house and put his hands on my daughter is another thing altogether. No no no. This cannot be. How can this be? This is bad. Real bad.
I called 911 and within minutes the police and ambulance were there, and we had a parade of over twelve police officers come through over the next four hours. One police officer advised we get a security system. Another police officer gave a strong recommendation to buy a dog. He said that’s the best security system. We don’t have a security system for two reasons: 1. God is our security; 2. Rich is too cheap. I’m rethinking this, though. And we hope to get a dog if we can find one suitable and reasonably priced.
Yes, we thank God for giving Bri a dream that made her wake up. She starts up and is awake, and then this man comes up the steps. She has the adrenalin and strength to scream and to fight him off. That's a gift from God.
Practically speaking, I wish God would have kept the dude from coming into our house in the first place. Is that too much to ask? During the twenty-four hours after the incident, I told myself that we need to receive this experience as an opportunity to trust God with everything. But man, everywhere I went I would think “Was this the guy? Was that the guy?” It’s tough to care for people when everyone looks like a potential burglar. Over the course of the next week, God gently softened my heart.
The night after the incident
The night after the incident I slept downstairs in the family room. I figured if the dude tries coming in again he’s going to have to get by my umbrella first. I locked the boy’s room from their side, so I could not get into the boys room unless I would go outside, up the exterior steps, and enter the dining room. Well I woke up sometime around 3:30 p.m. to a loud moaning/groaning sound, and what I thought was a “3...2...1!” countdown from Avery, like he had the moaning guy in a chokehold. “Avery must have tackled this guy. I need to go help out!” I thought to myself. So I ran outside, up the steps, and entered into the dining room. I then waited and listened, but did not hear anything. I came back down and quietly entered the back door and stood there, listening.
I heard the front door open upstairs.
Running back outside, I ran up the outside steps two at a time and barreled into the dining room.
There was Avery, standing by the front door with a yellow broom in his hand, eyes wide. “Dad, you heard it too?” I heard the door open!”
“Yes, I heard the front door open. Was that you?” I asked.
“Yeah, I opened the front door, but I heard the back door just open. Who did that?” Avery asked.
“I opened the back door," I told him.
We looked at each other, relieved and a little sheepish at this round of scaring ourselves.
We had scheduled more than a month prior to this event to take a four day vacation on the Jersey shore in Wildwood Crest, NJ, so we were there from Monday through Thursday. It was a very timely getaway.
And God is working through the prayers of His people to restore trust in Him, and to be able to feel love towards people.
Last night, Bri called me at 11:45 p.m. from her bedroom. She had heard a noise in the kitchen. I came downstairs and found it empty. Nobody was on the back porch. So I walked down the basement steps to the boys room. Avery and Ben were awake, eating a frozen fruit salad. “Ben, I told you that you were too loud going up to the kitchen to get the spoons,” Avery said to Ben as they both looked at me from their midnight snack. I guess they got late night hunger pangs and Ben was commissioned to get the food and the spoons.
We are all still a little jumpy around here. Maybe a dog will help.
Son of the Father, husband to Sandy, father of six amazing gifts, Bronx brother, active participant in Believers in Jesus Church, insurance adjuster, occasional runner