If there’s any single event, that has shaped my life, it was the fire that destroyed my childhood home.

Happily, there was no loss of human life – though, we did lose a much beloved family pet.

We were left quite literally with only the clothes on our backs.

Now, at the time, I was a sophomore at Western Kentucky University, and away at school when the fire broke out. Since the fire occurred in the morning, the only one home at the time was my mother, and she was able to safely escape; terribly shaken, but physically unhurt.

My dad called me later that evening to give me the news. I cried, for my pet. And I went home the next day.

Hearing about it over the phone was terrible. Seeing it in person was devastating.

Our house was a complete loss. The fire started in the laundry room, adjacent to my bedroom, and so everything that I had owned, made, or cherished – from earliest childhood on – was simply gone. Just – gone.

We had our lives, and nothing else.

It was more than enough.

With loving help from friends and neighbors, we were able to cram five people into a two-bedroom apartment, while our house was rebuilt within the shell of the exterior that remained.

The fire changed everything for us. It changed what we valued. It changed who we were.

And its effects are still being felt today, thirty years on, as my family still lives with the consequences of everything that happened after.

Things are things. They can always be replaced.

But people, and experiences – they are the rarest of life’s treasures.

When you find yourself wanting something more, wanting something else, or simply wanting – hold tight to those you love. Tell them it will be alright. Tell them you love them.

And it will be.

Go, and be you.


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