Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saying goodbye.

Yesterday morning at 4:55 we received a somewhat frantic call from our former neighbor in North Minneapolis, who said, "Your house is on fire."  Our scramble out to the car and onto the road felt painfully familiar.  Although the scenario was different, internally I was revisiting the deep sadness of driving to the hospital to say goodbye to my dad, which was soon followed by my mom's passing, and eventually my brother. 

As we approached the block in our old neighborhood, the place where we lived for twelve years, we were stopped by a half dozen fire trucks and emergency vehicles.  There was a pit in my stomach and a sense of dread as we walked closer to to the house.  The firefighters were still trying to get the fire under control.  The beautiful view of downtown Minneapolis that we used to enjoy was obscured by the smoke pouring out busted windows in our first family home.  It was heartbreaking. 

Leo and I moved out of our first house not long after my brother died in 2013.  We had been spending a few months rehabilitating my ancestral home, where my brother had been living.  He left the house in pretty rough shape, and I was determined to restore some happiness to the place. In the winter of '13/'14 we were hit with the bitterly cold "Polar Vortex", at which time we packed up some essentials and our rabbit Austin and headed to the family homestead for what was going to be a winter "staycation".  We never left.  The transport of our material stuff was completed last fall.  We're still unpacking the boxes when we find time.

Once the fire had been extinguished, an inspector attempted to enter the house to see if a cause could be determined, but she wasn't able to get very far into the building.  The second floor of the house had crashed down upon the main level.  The city deemed the house unsafe and told us that it would be demolished within a few hours.  For me, looking at the shell of our first home was like standing in front of a dead loved one who had just left their body.  Its spirit was gone.  We didn't stick around for the demolition; we chose to get breakfast instead. 

Later in the day we received pictures from a friend who was there when the house came down.  The final shot he sent us showed the front steps leading up to what was now nothing.  It was final.  In the end, we know that it was just a house.  More specifically it was an old house, built in 1900.  If we had sold the house, there is a good chance the new owners would have torn it down and rebuilt anyway.  Still, the pain we felt throughout the day was very real and sorrowful.  We packed a lot of living into the twelve years spent in that home.  Now we move forward to the next phase with hope and a reasonable level of optimism.  

Life goes on.

The final photo, after our home was reduced to a pile of kindling.