This is huge. No, really, I know you’re probably thinking Hey, Teenie, it’s just a candle. True. That’s very true you’re right. It’s still huge. Here, let me explain.
I’ve been afraid of fire since I was 4.
Know how sometimes you see a bug and flap your hands and maybe squeal a little bit?
Not that kind of scared.
It’s more like, whole body shaking, paralyzed, sweating, panting, about to pass out, I learned to make myself vomit at 5 to avoid cookout night at Girl Scout camp, complete terrified of fire.
When I was 4, my neighbor’s house burned down. We lived off a dirt road in an extremely rural area, fire hydrants were for city folk. We had a retention pond and ditches that could be drained and used to fight fires.
But, when I was 4, and my neighbors house was on fire, all of the people were safe. So they refused to drain the pond. Their house burned completely to the ground. There wasn’t anything left. Nothing at all.
The night it happened. I didn’t see the firefighters as heroes. They were losers. They spent the whole night standing on our street doing nothing. Watching our friends watch their house burn completely to the ground. I felt betrayed the guys who were supposed to protect us, didn’t. They just watched.
Earlier this week, SC woke up to pounding on her window, and screaming. Her neighbor’s house was on fire. She lives in the city. They have hydrants. The fire fighters put out the fire.
That’s the first time anyone ever explained to me that “house fire” doesn’t always mean standing around watching an entire home turn into a mound of ash.
For the first time I realized that 1- I now live in the city and have fire hydrants, and no one would have to make that kind of decision. And 2- those firefighters I was so convinced had failed me when I was 4, were actually heroes. Their job is to protect US (not things). Standing and watching my neighbors lose everything took courage, probably as much courage as it takes to enter burning buildings… Maybe more, without the adrenalin surge.
By refusing to drain the pond to put out the fire, they *were* protecting me. They were making sure that the water would be there, in the event it was needed for saving people.
They did their jobs, and I was safe the whole time.
Tonight, 23 years later… I lit a candle for the first time.
I’m catching up.