A house is not just a roof over your head. It’s the architectural expression of a life. It’s an extension of your personality and aesthetic. Whether its walls are carefully adorned or its laundry room is overflowing, the house tells the story of the family who lives within it.
My parents’ house burned down last week in the Northern California fires. They lived in Santa Rosa. They retired to a house with a beautiful view and filled it with beautiful things and beautiful people who visited from all over. It was their dream home, and Mom used to joke that they’d have to roll her out of it. That was before the fire roared right down their street.
Whole communities were reduced to dust. So far the fires have scorched 220,000 acres and claimed 40 lives.
The father of a friend wrote about the ache of putting his house up for sale recently, “any place you live a life you love develops ties that bleed when you cut them.” But does it merely bleed when the loss of the home is not your choice? And what does it mean when 3,000 are gone? Is it hemorrhaging?
I am so grateful that my parents were not there when it happened. They were away on a trip scheduled to return the next day. Yet “What Ifs” keep me up at night: what if they slept through it; what if they tried to gather too many vital documents; what if they searched just a little too long for their beloved cat? Poor, sweet LouLou.
Mornings are hard. Mornings punch you in the gut with the fact that this is not a dream, that your life is forever changed. Heirlooms are gone, as are all the photos of your family before the digital age, and everything you proudly collected – art, books, model trains. And you miss your cat.
Now they wait to return to a pile of ash. And they are resilient. They are sad but determined. Frustrated but hopeful. They do not regret. They do not despair. They are alive, and they are making plans. They are amazing. We are lucky.