A little girl of almost nine,
Gets called to the Mother Superior’s office, with the rest of her family.
None of her brothers or sisters comply with the intercom request. They were never called to the office. They never got into trouble.
It’s a mistake, they think, telepathically. Mother Superior meant to call down a similar sounding Polish name.
We were told our neighbor will pick us up. We will meet our parents at a coffee shop.
There was a fire. No one was hurt. There was a fire. No one was hurt.
We live with our oldest brother’s family until our house is rebuilt. Fifteen people. Two bedrooms. One bathroom.
I no longer could complain of hand me down clothes and toys. I now had only charity clothes. There must have been toys. I don’t remember toys.
Fast forward forty-two years.
I attend a speaking engagement of John O’Leary’s.
Gut-wrenching sobs for childhoods lost. Co-workers around the table, uncomfortably avoiding my eyes. Distancing themselves from me.
I wasn’t there. I wasn’t burned. Why are you crying? No one was hurt in your fire.
Material possessions are just immaterial.
Things are taken for granted in our lives of too muchness.
Until it isn’t there.
If I could save one thing from a fire., I would. It doesn’t matter what it is – it earns importance as a survivor of fire.