I stepped out of grief -- by dancing with fire

TED Talks Daily
|

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

When i was six years old our house caught fire and my mother died. It was a cold february night in michigan. Our chimney had recently been fixed so we had a warm fire going in the fireplace. My younger sister. And i were sitting next to our dog and coloring with a brand new box of colored pencils when mom said it was time for bed. We'd planned to go up north at night for a weekend of snowmobiling and sledding. But it was already dark and snowing outside so we decided to leave the next morning. Instead we went upstairs brush. Our teeth climbed into bed. My sister's room right next to the stairs and mine at the far end of the hallway. Our parents tucked us in kissed us. Good night then. Left the door open just a crack and the hallway light on as always was in the middle of the night. I woke up sweating confused. Because i couldn't see that hallway light. I started shouting for my parents. Until finally i heard words that i'll never forget dave. It's a fire. We later found out that our fire from earlier had burned through an unrepaired crack in the chimney causing the fireplace doors to explode and fire to just pour into the living room. I remember my mom running down to my sister's room frantically searching for her and finally finding her on the floor. I crawled after her and my hands and knees trying not to breathe in the smoke. I remember standing next to my sister's room trying to turn on that hallway light but it was already on. I just couldn't see it because the smoke was so thick. I remember feeling the heat of the fire on my skin and a hearing the sound of it as it climbed up the stairs. My dad ran down to my bedroom window as an escape route but it was february and it was frozen shut. Eventually he broke the window and prior to open his arms and hands covered glass and cuts. He lifted my sister and me onto an opening under the window and told us to shout for help. Not seeing my mom. He considered going back into the fire to find her but after looking at my sister and may huddled together on that roof and knowing that neither of them may make it out he stayed with us calling her name through the window instead after a few minutes. A man driving on the street saw the smoke and fire drove onto. Our lawn climbed onto the roof of his car and told us to jump into his arms. We'd never seen him before and even though he saved our lives we never saw him again. We were brought over to a neighbor's house. While dad continue to weigh on the roof from my mom reaching his arms and hands through the window and into the fire calling her name over and over he said later that when the fire department arrived they carried him down the ladder just as a lower level windows shattered and burst into flames. It took the fire department longer to find my mom. She'd bet on the floor of my bedroom. The entire time pinned down by a dresser that had fallen on her leg. We think she went back to look for our dog but by the time the fire department reached them. It was too late. She died on the way to the hospital. Dad was in critical condition with smoke inhalation and burns and cuts over third of his body. He spent nearly a month in the hospital. Unable to attend mum's funeral and undergoing multiple excruciating skin graft surgeries. My sister and i stayed with a neighbor across the street but we would sit in front of their living room window for hours just staring at the remains of our burnt home. After a few days it became evident that we would need to go and say within different family friends. The next few years were tough as a single father of two young girls. Dad did his very best to provide for us. As we all try to grieve and recover we began to move on and this new reality. Dad baden newhouse down the street without a fireplace and eventually remarried. My sister and i excelled in school. I was a cheerleader. And she rode horses and played in the band

Coming up next