Grieving over loss from Wilmington fire

What a horrible tragedy in Wilmington. The family and friends of Brittany Talley-Barney are constantly in our thoughts after a fire Saturday morning took her life and left other residents of the apartment house homeless. Hearts are heavy all over the area.

And another family living in that Springfield Road apartment house was left homeless: Shawntel Goff, Cory Lawrence and their three daughters, age 8, 6 and 2. We urge people to let them know they are supported and loved, and to donate to local fundraising efforts on their behalf. There is one on Facebook at http://ow.ly/NvTx30oT0rZ, and the Lake Placid Elementary School office is accepting donations of new toys, coloring books, stuffed animals, clothing, cash and other gifts through June 14. Contact Michele Kulina at 518-523-3640 ext. 4501.

One of the scariest things for parents to do is to write a will, because it’s so difficult to decide who will take care of one’s children if one is to die. One might look at family members and think, sure, they would love my kids, but would it be a good fit with their lives? Would it work? Brittany Talley-Barney proved to be the right person for that job.

When her sister Bethany Talley died several years ago, Brittany moved back to her hometown from Rhode Island to take care of Bethany’s three children. And she did a great job, according to the oldest, Cadence Lewis. They loved her and knew she loved them. They remember her as fun and caring.

“She moved here to become a second mom to us,” Cadence said. “She felt like, even though we weren’t her kids, we were her kids. She did everything she could to make sure we had what we needed.”

Now they’ve lost her as well, but we’re sure they will find a deep well of love and care in their family — and in the community, where this family is so ingrained.

An act of heroism by the neighbors kept a second person from dying in the fire. At great personal risk, these neighbors struggled to break open a bedroom window of the burning house and rescue Brittany’s boyfriend Alex, a chef who, along with her, helped run the nearby ADK Pizza & Pasta restaurant. We cannot imagine how horrible this situation is for him, but we hope he knows how much this community is with him in love and support. We are sure he has seen much of that already — people already donated thousands of dollars in local fundraisers — but the care is perhaps wider than he can know.

We pray that God, acting through us and his spirit, bring strength and endurance, comfort and healing to all who need it as a result of this terrible event.