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Talking it over - My longest night

This week when I started working on the Years Ago column I was surprised to see that it was fifteen years ago when my son lost his friends in a terrible house fire. That night was one of the longest and most terrifying nights of my life, as it was for many people. I read the news account and then read the column I wrote after the fire. I thought that the message in the column was very fitting for many parents so I decided to reprint it this week on the fifteenth anniversary of this tragedy.

"A parent's worst nightmare is to have something happen to your children. You are constantly concerned about their safety, health and well-being. If it was in your power, you would happily endure all their pain for them. However, you quickly find out how powerless you are in controlling some events that affect them. This realization hit us full force this weekend.

The phone woke my husband and I about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Our son, Jamie, sounded very upset as he told us that the home in which he was living was burning. My husband quickly told him that we would be right there and we left for Starbuck.

When we were within a few blocks of his home, the smoke, flames and flashing lights told us that this was a major fire. Thankfully we embraced our son, but were devastated as he tearfully informed us that his roommate was still in the house.

The next few hours were some of the longest of our lives. We watched with hope as the firemen entered the house and we were in despair as we learned that his roommate and another friend lost their lives in the fire.

The relief that our son had managed to narrowly escape with his life was overshadowed by this tragedy. This experience has hurt him and the families of these young men in a way that we cannot fix, no matter how much we want to. But the love of friends and family does help to ease the pain.

We may never have all the answers to the questions that surround this tragedy. I just wish that I could find the answer to one vital question - how can we ease his pain? The answer is still not there, but with time, prayers and understanding, perhaps some day we will know.

Jamie lost all his possessions in the fire, but most of these, in one way or another, can be replaced - his friends can not. I wish that we could take this nightmare and bear it for him. Instead we will be there for him and try to help others in the future.

I just want to encourage all parents to take time today to hug your children, tell them you love them and take every precaution you can to protect them. The rest is in God's hands."

A good reminder for parents at any time and in any situation. We continue to remember the families of the two boys lost in the fire and hope that no other parents will have to experience this type of loss.