I got a comment last night on a post I wrote shortly after the fire. The comment asked if they were always going to be afraid. It's a good question and one I think about often. It's up there with "Am I always going to assume the worst?"
It's almost been two years since the fire. Two years. Tonight I was sitting in our beautiful backyard watching Kellen play in his new pool and I tried to imagine us watching him play in our old yard. I imagined sitting on the wooden deck Dan and I hand-built with Kellen in the small yard off the kitchen window that we sodded ourselves. I could imagine him there, on that patch of grass instead of the one we are on now. I wonder if I will always be able to imagine our duel lives in that way.
We have a gas stove. I don't know how anyone convinced me that this was a smart idea. Apparently it cooks better. It also has the ability to make me jump into a full on panic instantaneously. Sometimes the fire doesn't catch immediately, and once it does, it's excited. But that first poof is frightening.
I still watch fire trucks out my second story window and track their movement down Amity to determine whether I need to go outside to look for smoke. This behavior isn't normal. Not for a normal person anyway. But I'm not normal anymore. This behavior is normal for a fire survivor I think. Or at least someone who struggles to overcome PTSD from a fire.
I rarely dream about fire anymore. It is the one area I've made progress in, and I think it's telling of the state of my unconscious mind. I don't know if it's time that's allowed me to progress or if it's the fact that I'm now scared of Lyme disease. Trade one trauma for another I guess. Or maybe it's just that we all sleep through the night now, so I treasure every millisecond of sleep and don't much remember my dreams anymore. I would remember them if they were fire related.
Our journeys are all full of crises, some less intense than others certainly. But growth is an inevitable part of our human experience. So I guess the answer to the question "Am I always going to be afraid?" is "maybe. But you'll change from it too." The fear will change you. And as the fear changes you, you will learn to manage it as it curls up into your life. I think I will always be afraid. But I've learned to cope so that it doesn't overrun me. I think that's key.