into the fire

Mother teach me to walk again
Milk and honey so intoxicating
And into the fire I’m reunited
Into the fire I am the spark
Into the fire I yearn for comfort
–Sarah McLachlan, Into the Fire

the advent wreath at the church was not extinguished after last night’s service. i should’ve checked. i should’ve checked. i should’ve checked.
but i had a class to teach, people to feed, i had things to do. i thought it was being done.
i should’ve checked.

how long will these words run through my head? how long?

the blessing, the absolute blessing, is that the rug is charred, st. peter is charred, the wall is covered in black smoke, but that is all. the wreath is gone. the lesson is learned. the damage is minimal. we were lucky. we were beyond lucky. i should feel relieved. i should feel grateful.

but i smell the smoke. the char. and it is all too familiar.

it smells like aunt kay’s apartment, on the day my mother and i walked through the ruins that remained after the fire. the fire. did she start it? did she suffer? did she try to get out? we’ll never know. i pray she was oblivious. but the smell–i’ll never forget the smell. and to smell it again today was not what i expected.

someday i will make sense of it all. someday i will understand. but today i am sad. i am sad for her. and i am sad for me because she is gone. and all that remains is the smell of char.

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