Tragedy at Sweetbrier

A view of Sweetbrier

Yesterday I watched one of my favorite TV series.  An episode aired showing  an electrical fire. In this case, nearly all  of the horses died. It brought painful memories to the surface because we had a fire at Sweetbrier when I was a child. My sister Terri, and I happened to be watching from our bedroom window when there was an explosion and flames shot through the barn roof.  At the time, our dad was working one of the horses in the ring. He jumped off and ran into the flames to save as many horses as possible.

Our dad was incredibly brave that day when he rescued all but two of the horses. When he ran into the barn to free them, the fire was too hot. Even though his hands were burned and his hair singed, he tried to get the horses to safety. But he couldn’t open the stall doors. Even recalling that day brings profound sadness. As a family, we discussed the choices; either close Sweetbrier, or rebuild. We didn’t want the tragedy of the fire to defeat our spirits or snatch our dreams away. With that in mind, we chose to rebuild. The support of our  wonderful neighbors in Easton lifted our spirits.

Sweetbrier, showing the barns and indoor ring on the hill.

Can you find a silver lining in sad events? I believe so. We learned to carry on and overcome adversity. We focused on the blessings we had because we were together as a family. All of us will forever carry the sadness of that day in our hearts, but we also cherish the successes that followed.

When I wrote My Life at Sweetbrier, I considered omitting the chapter about the fire, but I thought it was important for young readers to see that sad events are part of life and we can do our best to overcome tragedies and become wiser people because of them.

copyright 2018: Deanie Humphrys-Dunne



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