Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Fear of Fire

Sitting at our kitchen table with a shaking hand, drinking coffee and smoking cigarette after cigarette Mrs. Purdy’s distress is still clear forty years later.  Her daughter was sitting on her mom’s lap, quiet and frightened.  My mom a militant nonsmoker was handing her an ashtray as they waited together as the men of the rural community fought the house fire.
As a four year old I didn’t understand fire could burn a house down and later that evening our family, with Dad still in his smoke scented farm clothes, went to view the still smoking remains of the tall farm house.  That night as I slept had the first of many nightmares.  In my dream the fireman was coming to get me, a boogie man to be feared.  I had the reoccurring dream for several years. 
Today my new student G drew a kindergarten story about her house burning down.  The whole story was drawn in red. The story repeated, Mom, got out.  Dad got out.  My dogs got out.   Her story said that she’d been sleeping, they woke her up to get her out. 
As the sharing time went on she looked so sad, I repeated how happy I was she was safe.  I wonder how many years of dreams she’ll have.


  1. I believe this new student has been handed a real gift, to receive you as her teacher. What a lovely thing that you can understand the depth and range of her emotions. What a difficult experience!

  2. Ditto what Maureen said. This child in your class can't be a coincidence.