They say a single moment can change your life

Abby Crawford

Sometimes, your life can just be turned upside down, in what feels like the blink of an eye.

You wake up happily enough, with above average expectations for your day, but then at some unexpected moment your life goes on a path you could never imagine or predict – and it’s changed forever.

Sometimes it’s exciting and exhilarating, a roller coaster of emotion that leaves you breathlessly anticipating the next turn of events – like the first splinter of realisation you have fallen completely in love, all your senses are heightened, and you live life for each delicious moment.

But other times, the catalytic change of direction is breathtaking in its devastation.

Ten years ago today, that moment happened. That moment that changes your life forever. Just six months prior, I had made a brave move to relocate myself and my six-year-old son to the country having purchased my first home. 10 years ago, my idyllic country life, my perfect plans for lovingly restoring a homestead, my intentions to preserve the history that had been housed by my walls for more than 100 years, all went up in smoke. Literally.

It was a cold and otherwise insignificant night, the night my house burnt down. My son and I were asleep, but I got us out in time. In time to stand on the nature strip in our PJ’s and watch the windows explode, flames hungrily reach through the eaves seeking to destroy more and more. A cream house turns black in 15 minutes. I had carried my son out in time and had gone back into a dense black smoke-filled house and felt my way through rooms to rescue my pups as well. And there we stood, on the nature strip, watching everything we owned go up in flames.

For a long time after this night, my memory was like a silent movie. I didn’t remember hearing anything that night, not the cracking timber, not the shattering glass, not the sirens of police, fire trucks and ambulance. But they were there. Our lives had changed, unexpectedly and forever.

But they had not changed in a way you might imagine. And not at the moment you might think. I’d never felt so lucky in my life. At the hospital, I still remember the intensity of that overwhelming gratitude as I held my son in my arms through the night. Our oxygen tubes tangled, our masks crunched together, but he slept in my arms. And holding that warm gently snoring child, I knew that nothing else mattered. And it’s still that way today.

I have, and always will have, an appreciation for the simplicity of just being here. I am, and always will be, humbled by the kindness of strangers. I have and will continue to give as much to the community that helped us get back on our feet as I can. I have and will continue to volunteer in roles that support those in need. You see, in life we walk a tightrope and no matter how secure you think you’ve made things; they can change in a moment.

Appreciate every day. May the milestones of past traumas remind you of your strength and resilience. May we all be better, wiser and kinder for the unexpected turns life can deliver; may we see that simply surviving them is sometimes enough.

Stay strong, love each other •

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