My home burnt down. I have to keep telling myself that as I drive towards what is left after a fire began late last night. I cannot believe what has happened. I cannot convince myself to be prepared for what I am about to see. Utter shock swiftly followed by despair washes over me as I step out of the car. What is left is a structure…no, no, a wreckage…of what once was. My home, my life is a wreckage.
Thin strands of light grey smoke intertwine and rise up out of the ash only inches before vanishing into the lightly blowing air. The smell of soot is barely registered by my mind as I weep over what has been lost. And, as I walk through the remains, a voice that is hardly audible is telling me how the fire began in the laundry room from what is suspected to a lint blockage in the dryer hose.
The emptiness I feel overwhelms my senses and I cannot smell nor hear what or who is around me. As my left hand covers my mouth, tears cloud my vision. I feel the urge to breathe, yet it is choked back by the hardness clenching my throat. My mind races with images of what was lost. It forces me to picture what once was and what now is. Comparisons from the day before to what is before me now constrict my stomach and make me nauseous. Piece by piece, I remember what item was where. Each artifact…yes,I believe I can call them that now…each artifact carried a memory of who gave to it me and when. My mom gave that to me just a week ago as an early birthday present. My sister sent that to me for my birthday last year. I got received that one on Easter from my best friend more than 20 years ago. My cousin sent that for me before Christmas…and no trace of it is left. No resemblance in the ash pile to the statue that I gazed upon from time to time, remembering how much I loved it when I opened the box. I squint my eyes, holding back my anger. Tears forcefully well up from the recognition that those moments I relived through each item is gone. Moments that I cherished experiencing when I stopped to admire these gifts of love that gave me the sense of feeling close to my dear loved ones. Now, more than ever, everyone seemed so far away. I realized that all I held close to my heart was gone. Gone.
After that horrendous day, it took close to a week, after several phone calls from those same loved ones expressing their love and support that it finally became clear to me. My loss had blinded me to something. Something, that perhaps, my attachment to those objects had also stood in my way of recognizing what had been there all along. Love is not in objects. Love is given from each of us to the other. Yes, those objects reminded me of their love, but only reminded me. Their love for me and my love for them did not need representation in material constructs. I needed to listen to my heart to feel them and then my eyes would see the love all around me. My mistake was trying to see love with my eyes, then my heart. I had been living backwards. Loss is great and enveloping…but out of that darkness, your heart can show you the way, if you turn around and face it moving forward. My home is my heart; it was never my house.