It does not escape my attention that, while on my way to a workshop to continue my memoir about the house that burned down, I meet, on the hotel elevator, a mother and child whose house just burned down.
They are staying at this hotel because their house burned down.
The mother tells me her child is barefoot because their house just burned down (and she doesn’t have shoes, now).
(When the mother began the sentence, almost an apology, “My daughter’s barefoot because—” I filled in, in my head, some friendly chatter: “Oh, my daughter loves being barefoot!” but then the mother finished her sentence, about the fire. I didn’t talk about my daughter. The conversation was going elsewhere. I simply tried to hold space for her trauma, while she was still in the crisis of it.)
The child, barefoot, gleefully tells me what burned, “even my birth certificate!” Later, she shows me her cartwheels. (Oddly, years ago, I had a dream about the workshop leader, that he was showing me cartwheels.)
I tell the mother I’m glad they made it out. That she has a very resilient child. That I’ll be thinking about them. I don’t say what’s on my mind, because it’s all still occurring to me—that the child will lead them through the brambles of trauma.
Because that’s one gift of the child, of being a child.