We nearly had a major house fire this past weekend, from which our older daughter thankfully escaped with only very minor burns.

Now that I have your attention…

It’s all true. I don’t need to get into the specifics. It was a kitchen accident which happened the way most kitchen accidents do. The person preparing the dinner knows the right thing to do when disaster strikes, and none of that really matters when an overwhelming set of events happen all at once. That’s when you do exactly what you’re not supposed to do. I think we can all relate to that moment.

Events like this cause you to stop and reflect on what you have and how you conduct yourself. I know my parenting skills are passable at best (my elementary and high school teachers would say I have “potential”). I admit I have a low threshold for routine lapses like when our daughters don’t clean up after themselves or don’t turn off the lights — to name just two of many examples. They’ll most certainly agree.

I think I make up for it, though, when the big stuff happens. Those are the situations where it’s easier to see the big picture and take comfort in survival. It’s like you get zinged with a reality check. The soot-covered kitchen ceiling reminds you how swiftly fire moves, and how much power it carries wth it — even if it’s an instantaneous fireball that evaporates as quickly as it ignites. You replay these images in your mind, even if you weren’t in the room when they took place.

When you get ripped from your life, nothing else matters. The work project I’d been focused on, the mess in the bathroom… none of that matters when you’re sitting in the back of an ambulance while paramedics triage your daughter, or when you’re following that same ambulance to the hospital to make sure the burn damage is strictly superficial, that it didn’t spread to muscles, sinuses or lungs.

Things could have gone horribly Saturday night. I’ve had several nightmares about what could have been (and thankfully wasn’t). The worst of it is some superficial burns on our older daughter’s wrist and forearm. There’s a burn mark on our kitchen floor in the shape of the bottom of our small pot, which I couldn’t care less about considering what we dodged.

I am so grateful we are all okay. I’m impressed by how our two daughters pulled together to respond to the incident, making sure everyone got out safely and calling 9-1-1 before Andrea and I knew what was going on.

I am so grateful for the amazing men and women of the Ottawa Fire Service and Ottawa Paramedic Service who responded quickly, made sure we were all intact and that our house was out of danger.

I am so grateful that we are all safe and together, and that we get to remain so in our beautiful home (I need to remind myself next time I have to turn off a light).

And, I’m so grateful that the soot made the pattern of an angel wing spanning the length of our kitchen ceiling. I think I’d like to keep it for a while.


The first (and hopefully only) time I had to follow an ambulance transporting one of our daughters to a hospital.


The top of the angel wing soot pattern, spanning the length of our kitchen ceiling.


The pot-print on our kitchen floor.