my first reading

I pick up my book with trembling hands. “Thank you for being here. I’ve been speaking for the burn fund for a long time. Whenever I’m with you guys and our fire fighters it feels like coming home.”

Deep breath.

“I’m going to read you a little of chapter 12 called ‘Home for Christmas’.”

Deep breath. My hands are still shaking. Keep still. But my hands won’t hear me.

I begin to read aloud from page 63. “Tinsel, wreaths and garlands…” On a hot July evening I read about going home for Christmas after being in the burn unit for 6 months. In front of me is a small audience of fire fighters and burn fund supporters. We’re on a large boat, big enough to hold many people, serve dinner, and pick up a gaggle of campers waiting on an island for us as we make our way across the ocean.

It’s quiet as I read. There is a smattering of applause when Peter is mentioned. Peter is the fire fighter who drove me home when snow had fallen hard in the Lower Mainland, making the roads slick and dangerous. My voice is steady but my hands continue to shake. This is the first time I have read my book aloud to a group of people. For years I’ve spoken to audiences large and small, telling my story, and I have never been this nervous, this raw.

I finish reading on page 66. I look up. “Thank you. I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for listening.”

People are smiling and clapping. I look at my family, at Scott and my kids. Annie and Ben have never heard me give a speech. They’re too young to read my book, but they came with me today. I wanted them to be here, to be a part of what I do and meet kids who have suffered, who are spending a week at camp to have fun and be free. Ben jumps up from his chair. “Good speech, Mommy!” He wraps his arms around me tight. I squeeze him back, hard. “Thanks buddy.” I return to my seat beside Annie. Tears shine in her eyes. “Mommy, some of that was so sad. It makes me sad.” I pull her to me, rest my chin on the top of her head and breathe her in, shampoo and sunshine. “It’s okay. I know. But there is a happy ending.”

Swept up
in the incredible people of the BC Professional Fire Fighters burn fund

1082731_10152075690059202_159081274_n1085225_10152075690064202_1643917081_nThis photo of these lovely women reading my book was snapped and sent to me. The second photo was taken on the Burn Fund Cruise where I did my very first reading and signing.

9 thoughts on “my first reading

  1. Tara Pohlkotte

    ah. how I wish I could have been there to hear you read it in person! I have not forgotten that I need to order a copy… and if I ask super nicely, would you sign it for me??? so so so so so so proud of you. I don’t know that I could be more happy for how right this all seems.

  2. IntenseGuy


    I can’t wait until the book I ordered arrives!!! It sounds like “the read of the summer”!

    You’ve inspired probably far more people than you will ever know – including me.

  3. Kerstin

    You have to let me know if you’ll be doing any readings closer to Merritt. Or public readings – I want to come and see you!
    Got my book in the mail today. Yay!
    Will start to read it soon!

  4. Kerstin

    I just finished your book and I wanted to tell you that I loved it. It made me laugh, cry, be happy and sad. The best of everything.
    I love about it most that you really dug deep. No “the best thing that happened to me, turned my life around kind of thing”, but just honestly that it really sucked big time.
    Just wow, Heidi – I can only imagine what writing a book like that takes out of you. Definitely a testament to what a great writer you are.
    XOXO, my friend – I do hope that we can have a coffee together some day 🙂

  5. Julia

    You are making me all teary. I am so incredibly proud of you. For your writing, your reading, and your bravery to tell your story. Thank you so much for sharing. I am so honored to know you..even if it is only online. And this book my friend? I CAN NOT WAIT to read.


  6. Helene

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