Friday, April 8, 2011
Fighting Fire with Fire
After the fire, I remember planning my escape from my bedroom if I should ever wake up to find my own house on fire. I made sure I knew how to open the tricky screen windows and I realized I could easily walk along the roof line to the backyard where the roof dropped down low enough for me to jump from. Later when I moved across town to a different house, I again planned my escape route and felt better when I saw that a fire box was right at the end of my driveway.
When I first moved to college I dreaded middle of the night fire drills. In fact, I was incredibly frightened of them. I lived on campus for two years and was subjected to only a couple instances when either an alarm was pulled or when smoke indeed set one off during the evening hours, but it was a rare night that I'd go to bed without thinking of the possibility of being awoken to the fire alarm. I remember making sure my sneakers were within reach and more importantly, that my glasses could be found quickly should the disorientation of a rude awakening occur.
As an adult in my own home, I am cautious but I have relaxed in terms of my fear. I do not live in fear however my family would probably quickly report that I do indeed have a fire ladder under my bed in case I ever needed to drop it out the window, and I make doubly sure that any fire in the fireplace or in the outside fire pit is completely extinguished before I go to bed. But I have calmed myself over the years. I think the biggest thing is that I realized a basic truth about myself close to 20 years ago. I realized that no matter what happened during the night, I was only going to be able to focus on one thing, getting my children to safety. I no longer think of my own safety when danger is near. Instead my thoughts immediately go to my children, and I know that I would risk anything to keep them safe. It's that simple.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that should I ever, God forbid, awaken to a fire in my home I would save my children or I'd die trying. It's not even up for debate and most parents will know what I am saying. Suddenly when you are responsible for another life or lives, especially of loved ones, you lose the fear for yourself and you realize that there's a job to do and you cannot let fear interfere in any way.
The girl who was frightened years ago by the sight of a family struck by tragedy has grown into a fierce protector of her children. When you have a job to do, there's little time for the indulgence of fear. You simply need to extinguish the threats and assess the situation. Fire drill or no fire drill, I am forever prepared to face fear...even my fear of fire. I have learned to fight fire with fire.