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It appears there’s an arsonist in our local area. There have been a number of fires deliberately lit recently, with ten being lit in just a two week period.
On one of the days, there were three grass fires lit in broad daylight in a highly frequented area. How the arsonist summoned the courage to do that is beyond me. It got me worried. I spoke with Sam that night and said I was feeling anxious. The number of fires lit and the minimal time between them being lit was frightening… I kept thinking this person is ramping things up - how long until they feel the need to do serious damage?
I told Sam that I wasn’t confident what to do in a fire. We can only exit our block via the front of the house and I don’t think I could jump our back fence with Henry in tow. Sam reassured me. He reminded me of how fires burn and told me what to do in the event of one.
Low and behold, more fires were lit the next evening. They were directly across the road from our home. I’d been changing Henry’s nappy and when I walked out of the room, I saw the blaze out the front. I was in disbelief. I told Sam and he ran out the front. He put out two small fires and the remaining two were put out by the fire brigade who soon arrived.
The fires were not out of control. They were not endangering any properties and no-one was harmed. Normally, I would’ve gone out the front as well, wanting to be part of the action. But having a child has changed me and I was experiencing emotions I have not felt before.
I was overwhelmed with feeling the need to protect Henry. I’ve always been protective of him, but it was different experiencing this emotion so fiercely. I was reminded that Henry is helpless and vulnerable and that I love him more than anyone.
I found myself imagining the situation being different and going pear-shaped. My heart was heavy with the fear of losing Henry or Sam, not to a fire specifically, but to anything.
I was angry that another human would deliberately light a fire, let alone one so close to family homes. I felt sick that perhaps the perpetrator was close by, watching on for entertainment.
I was reminded of my own mortality, of Sam’s mortality and of Henry’s mortality. I was reminded that life is not always within our control, and that it can be taken away faster than it is given.
Arson aside, bushfire season is upon us, having come early with this unusually warm weather. And I’m entering the hot season differently this year – with a reminder of what is precious in this life.
We got into bed that night with a renewed appreciation for what we value. I realised that when I saw the blaze out the front, I did not spare a single thought for the items in our home (gone are the days of having to pile the family albums into the car – our photos are now stored in the cloud!). I was wholly consumed with thoughts of my husband and my son.
Our relationships are the most precious thing we have. Not just with each other, but with all of our loved ones.
Yes, we all like to surround ourselves with material things that make our time more enjoyable, our homes more eye-appealing and our lives more practical. But material things are a means to an end; relationships are not.
This summer, be sure to have a fire plan for your family, not just for your home. Material things can be replaced, but people cannot.
I'm married to Sam and I'm a mother to Henry.