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Silence.

It can mean quiet joy or unbearable trauma. For me, right now, it’s the latter.

My little 100+ year old house by the creek, beneath the cottonwoods, concealed by ancient fragrant lilacs in the best of spring, when purple iris clustered around the chimney, is gone. Reduced to ashes, along with my elderly dog and cat, by a capricious and cruel wildfire. A wildfire that was impossible to imagine in our little suburb that used to be a mining town, along with hundreds of other houses. All in the span of a few hours.

My ex-Pat lived there, in the first house we bought together, which we still amicably owned together. I remember when I committed to buy it. We’d been married about three months and I couldn’t reach him by phone. Then I asked several co-workers, “Would you be mad if your wife bought a house without asking you?” He wasn’t, of course. It was the first house we looked at. Across the road, unpaved those 30 years ago, from a cow pasture. We lugged our first Christmas tree there home in a snowstorm from a lot where they later built the town hall.

When I left my marriage, I tried to leave the house as intact with my things as possible, trying to create the least amount of disruption for our daughter. So much of my treasured past, along with her entire childhood, vanished in the flames. My great grandmother’s china. My grandmother’s barrister bookcases housing my all-time favorite books. My Mother’s champagne glasses. Decades of my journals. Most of my photographs. My wedding dress. My daughter’s childhood artwork. Her stuffed animals. Her red dragon that was a bubble blower. Her Legos and Yu-Gi-Oh cards. The little books my Mother used to read to her, that were mine when I was a child. My grandmother’s letters to a mysterious beau during World War I that I had been saving to read. A shirt from a beau of my own that he gave me to remember him by, a beau whose heart I sadly broke many years later.

All gone.

We keep thinking of the random things we’ve lost, as we try not to think about the two furry loves that we lost. I want to die myself, and struggle to believe that they didn’t suffer, that the smoke got to them, and not the flames. I am agonizingly desperate for that reassurance. And unspeakably guilty that I could not save them. The worst kind of ‘what if’ and magical thinking.

This is not the first time my heart has been shattered. It likely, poignantly, will not be the last. But the pain is paralyzing. I don’t want to be here anymore. I go into my niece’s powder room and look for something I can cut myself with, just to try to let out the pain, to ease it into something I can bandage. I don’t, of course, and almost hate myself for not doing it, but I don’t. For my daughter. For my husband. For my ex. For my niece and her husband and her almost three-year old son, who have opened their home to her uncle. I don’t want to make them hurt more through my own selfish act.

So I plod on. Days interrupted by wracking sobs and small episodes of abject despair. Dreamless nights with a few snatched hours of sleep. Waking moments when I realize it’s real and the evil pain rushes back in to consume my soul. Nausea that has kept me from eating for two days so far. Dimly reminding myself that it will get better and just not caring. The someday when it will feel better is too far away for me to see or give a damn about.

I know I have not lost everything. But I have lost enough.

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That chimney is all that is left of my house.

Dear Annie,

You give the best hugs too.

xxx

#yearoflove

Dear Mary,

You always seem stressed and harassed at your job at the pharmacy, and I wish you didn’t. However, it makes me feel wonderfully cared for when you take that little extra step, like researching when a late order is coming in for me, or telling me to have a safe trip. It’s as if you come out of work headspace just for a moment, and that lovely human being I know you are shines through. It brightens my day. Thank you!

#yearoflove

Dear MKL,
Thank you for all your love and support and for surviving the holiday season with me. It’s always more than a joy to see you, and I feel like a piece of myself is missing when we’re not together. You are my car guy, my intrepid honey-doer, my partner, and my heart. I love sharing drives, snuggles, germs, laughter, martinis, pool, and adventures with you. We will get this whole house situation figured out, in one state or another, and live in our House of Dreams before we know it. You make me feel loved, beautiful, respected, valued, appreciated, treasured, and safe, and I hope I make you feel the same. I’ll live every day to make sure that you do.

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Today’s quote: “When looking for a life partner, my advice to women is date all of them: the bad boys, the cool boys, the commitment-phobic boys, the crazy boys. But do not marry them. The things that make the bad boys sexy do not make them good husbands. When it comes time to settle down, find someone who wants an equal partner. Someone who thinks women should be smart, opinionated and ambitious. Someone who values fairness and expects or, even better, wants to do his share in the home. These men exist and, trust me, over time, nothing is sexier.” — Sheryl Sandberg

#yearoflove

 

 

Today’s love note goes out to my daughter.

Dear One,
There are too many things to thank you for…it would take a lifetime…but I’ll just stick with today. Thank you for coming to my rescue in the dreaded mouse affair, and for switching roles with me, comforting me after my bad dream. I did feel a little bit bad for the mouse, but thinking about Mr. Man using it as a plaything in the bed in the wee small hours drastically reduced my sympathy. I love the empathy that shines through your soul, and I will try to tough out any future rodent encounters, thinking of your strength. I expect there will be more, as Mr. Man seems excessively proud of his mouser skills, and the winter is bound to get colder. All my love.

Today’s quote: “Any cat may stare into a fire and see red mice play.” — George R.R. Martin

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#yearoflove

Today’s love note goes out to Rachel.

Dear Rachel,
Thank you for coming to brighten my home over this New Year’s. Your laugh lights up any space that you’re in. Your enthusiasm for surprises made helping deliver those surprises all the more fun. I wish we’d had more time to watch movies and hang out and just talk about everything. It’s wonderful to see how happy you make my wonderful little person, and I appreciate you letting me act like a Mom to you. I’m cuddled under the turquoise llama blanket that you and your actual Mom gave me, and I hope you make it home safely tonight. Looking forward to sharing tulips with you again in the Spring.

#YearofLove

But it does continue to revolve at its own pace, doesn’t it?  I’ve missed you. I hope I’m back now.

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Denver, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. ” —  Jon Krakauer

Daily gratitudes:
MKL, always
Motion
Rainstorms
Mr. Man
A call from Kelsea

 

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell, especially when depression shadows you, constantly grabbing for your hand to hold you back. Even when I know the things I need to do to come out from a bout, I sabotage myself by not doing them. Sigh.

IMG_8419Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Quote of the day: “When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

Daily gratitudes:
Rabbits
Clean dishes
An empty drawer
Birds flying in formation
The Olympics

Save

One of my surrogate daughters asked me today if I loved or hated the snow. It’s truly a thin line between love and hate, though it’s certainly not a thin line between sand and snow. Those two are generally as far apart as Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz, and as we all know, I’m on the sandy side.

I love the sound of snow, like a softly crocheted blanket dropping slowly and gently on the earth. I like the silence that accompanies it, the dearth of traffic, the stillness of the birds which are just now starting to explore the possibility of perhaps maybe conceivably returning. It’s beautiful when it is pristine and untouched, unshoveled, unplowed. If I could sit in a tower and watch it swath the hills and trees and fields, I would love it. Working from a cozy house as it piles up isn’t bad either.

With my internal furnace currently set at magma, the cold doesn’t bother me so much, but going out in the snow is just a huge struggle. I’d love to go cross-county skiing or snowshoeing, but getting ready to go out, getting to the car, making it driveable, and getting anywhere is just … no.  I remember that from my childhood, when three inches of snow was a ridiculous amount. We never saw 16 inches in North Carolin in those days.

We seem to have topped out at around that foot and a half point with this storm, which the most accurate weatherman called a “crockpot” storm, because it took a while to develop. Now we just wait for the meltdown. Perhaps if I threw my magma-hot self into the snowbank, it would help things along.

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Snow on my favorite fuzzy tree, Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Cold and silence. Nothing quieter than snow. The sky screams to deliver it, a hundred banshees flying on the edge of the blizzard. But once the snow covers the ground, it hushes as still as my heart.” — Laurie Halse Anderson

Daily gratitudes:
Making soup on a cold day
Having help shoveling my walk
That MKL is home safe
Counting down
Friends

 

 

 

Christmas has definitely done a sneak this year. It seems like one day I was complaining that stores had their decorations up before Halloween and the next day it’s, well, today. And I’m not ready for my favorite holiday. And guess what? I’m letting myself be okay with that. I have a few things for the people I love best, and I’ll be making a ham on Christmas Eve night for the Christmas Day, which we will celebrate with his parents, and our kids, and his nieces. Tonight, though, it’s me and my little tree, and a bottle of San Pellegrino, and Mr. Man, and a Netflix binge of Hawaii 5-0 to remind me that there are blue waters and places where palm trees are decorated instead of pine trees. And I’m okay with that too.

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Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” — Charles Dickens

Daily gratitudes:
Fair winds and absent companions
Tickets to Cozumel
My Santa Hat
Getting to see Anastasia Fawni perform
MKL, always, MKL

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