26 February 2010

The Things We Keep

I quit writing.

I quit writing on paper; I know; this isn't paper, but I quit putting it here. I was writing, always in my head, but time--time to write--if I'd have started writing, I may not have stopped.

So instead of not stopping, I never began.

What I was telling you in my head was that last year had been the worst of my life; that I'd lived through it.

I wanted to tell you that I awoke and found myself and then found my voice.

And that life can come and get me, and that I will be running right into it, as fast as I can.

There will be no more weeping in showers. I shall weep, make no mistake, but to hide and cower; no.

I don't remember the order, but I recall the crumbling.

I have to tell you, I might not remember much from what I write here tonight. I think the Ambien is kicking in; who knows; the post so long in the writing may never make it to post.

My house fell apart? Did I tell you that?

A sewer cap broke under the home and drained, for months, under the crawl space. The crawl space above my office. 

The whole house had to be emptied out and many possessions parted with, replaced, of course, those that could be. Mourned, always, those that couldn't. The bacteria wasn't something you could just wipe away. The house had to be gutted.

While going through all of my belongings, I decided to make "The Box". The box you would grab after your children, the box with pictures of childhood you'd stolen from your mothers albums and lied about, the pictures of your children, worn and torn and faded yellow.

The letters from those that you loved, the letters from your grandparents and the amazingly life-reinforcing cards created by your soul sister Beth. The box of things that you would keep, if you could only keep one. I kept thinking, if I had to grab one thing....

But I didn't.

It happened so fast.

I'd just gotten home from work; I'd worked late that night and I didn't have the girls; I was still in my boots and coat. I was reading a planner page and donning an eye patch and laughing, looking forward to Friday, the day I was going to see some of my dearest friends from childhood and help with their move; we'd made a joke about pirates and Orlando Bloom. I was laughing out loud.

The dog whined. I ignored her. She always whines. I began to cough. Not too odd; I cough a lot lately.

I began to smell smoke. I began to ignore the smoke that I smelled. "Could. Not. Be."

Within one minute, I heard the owners above me scrambling, yelling, calling for their pets. I ran to my door and as I opened it, C was standing there, yelling, "The house is on fire."

He was looking for their cat, their beautiful cat. I started to help him look, but after a minute it became impossible with the smoke. He ran back upstairs and I walked, calmly, through my apartment, grabbed my purse and walked outside.

I stood for five minutes when I began shaking, thinking about the box. Thinking what I'd been thinking as I packed it: "If I had to put my life in one box...."

I began to shake and weep as I thought of what I'd wanted to keep, on the floor in a closet; a cardboard box. I became sick. I tried to comfort the owners, but they too were in shock, murmuring about the wood fire and the fan and how quickly it started.

At some point, I called my sister. That is almost the last thing I remember. I remember the fireman that had seen me weeping under a tree carrying out a box, cardboard, wet and walk to me. "I can carry this to your car."

The driveway is long; there were ten, fifteen fire trucks? I assume that I walked it. I remember laughing about something and then crying and laughing and crying.

"I don't have underwear," I laughed and cried. I left that on my insurance agents voice mail.

I tried calling the owners to find out about Milo, to find out where they are, to find out about the next step. I laid here and cried; thankful for the lives spared, terrified of what remains and what doesn't, a box, in my car, of what I would take with me if I had to put my life into a box and run.

And I'm running. Running right into it. Not crying in the shower; I'll just stand and weep openly. Life, you'll have to take this one kicking and screaming. Come hell or high water; so far, I survived them both.


Jennifer said...

Oh Jen, I am so sorry for all that you have been through. I have missed your posts but now I feel bad for being selfish about wanting you to post. I am so glad you are choosing to run into life. It's not always easy...I do know that...but it's what I've decided is the best way for me to live. Will be thinking about you and praying for you all.

Bon said...

so much in all that you didn't write that i am left standing with my mouth open, holding an uncertain package tenderly, receiving it, whatever it may be. sending back love and strength, though it appears you have a shitload of the latter.

Mamalang said...

OMG Jen, how horrible. I hope things improve...you deserve the happiness. I am very happy that you and your family are all okay though.

MileHighDad said...

I hope that was not a factual recount of current events! If it is, I am so sorry.

Never That Easy said...

I'm so sorry for the difficult time you've been having. Your words - and strength - are so moving, and I hope things improve for you ASAP.

luckyzmom said...

I am astounded and without words. Sending thoughts of love, comfort and strength.

Jonas said...

Oh, Jenn!!! I can't believe what I just read. It's too much, too much for any heart to bear.

I'd give you a hug if I could.

I'll pray as best I can.

Any name said...

Holy Crap!! You, I, You, WOW!!! I'm just stunned. Stunned and sad for you. No pity, but sadness. It hasn't killed you it has to make you stronger right? RIGHT???? Umm, one little thing O.K. two. You didn't mention HRH. I hope he is by your side not because you need a man per se (although they are handy sometimes), but because we all need someone to lean on. And 2, well I was going to ask about which of the three options the doctors gave you in December . . . I guess you'll tell us when and if you are ready. Peace, m'dear. I've missed your words.

Mama Goose said...

Um, WHAT? Holy Hell woman. That's enough crap for you!

Sending you strength - but I know you already have tons of that. Just keep it handy. Wishing I could do something. Anything.