Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New normal

A couple of posts ago I wrote about how I have struggled with when to break away from the blog’s standard format. I think I know what the main criterion is now: it’s when I can’t not write about something. This blog is, at its most basic, a chronicle of my everyday life, and some things happen that it just doesn’t feel right to have be invisible. Because when I look back at the archives, I’ll remember what was happening, and it will feel odd to have that missing. So I’m going to tell you about the unpleasant thing that I referred to in my last post.

Maybe writing about it will make it seem less surreal.


About two weeks ago, I heard through the family grapevine that my parents’ neighbors, who’ve lived two doors down for at least 30 years, had had a fire in their house in the middle of the night. Despite being quite old and rather frail, they both got out safely, as did their ground-floor tenant. No one related any information about the cause of the fire. I talked it over in a phone call with my parents, who were distressed on their neighbors’ behalf, and then went on with my week.

At 6:30 last Sunday morning, my phone rang. Knowing from grim experience that this usually means bad news, I leapt out of bed and ran into the next room, heart already pounding. My sister was on the other end to tell me that my parents’ house had caught fire a few hours earlier. They, too, despite being elderly and frail, had escaped unhurt, and their ground-floor apartment was empty—because that’s where we stay when we’re in Boston.

Given the similarities between the times and locations of the two fires, the Boston police and fire departments have classified both fires as arson, and investigation is ongoing.

My parents have been displaced from their home of nearly 50 years. Between the damage to the house and concerns about who lit the fires—and what they might do next—it seems unlikely that they will be able to return any time soon, if at all.

I spent two days in Boston last week, much of it sorting through a pile of charred rubble to salvage what I could of my husband and daughter’s belongings that had been stored in the closet over where the fire was set. I walked around my parents’ house and garden in a face mask and work gloves, talking to insurance adjusters, police and fire officials, family members coming and going, and shaken neighbors; all between bouts of working under the window of the room where Miss B sleeps when we visit, the outside wall three feet away boarded up and the scars of the fire clearly visible.

Then I came back here to Missouri to pick up the threads of my regular daily life, while trying to keep in contact with what is going on back east, prepare for whatever the next steps might be and what they might require of me, and deal with the welter of emotions (my own and other people’s) brought up by this bizarre and awful situation.

I am grateful that my parents are safe and being cared for. I grieve the violation and likely loss of my family home and neighborhood. I remain incredulous that anyone could carry out such a random, malicious act. I continue to try to adjust to the new reality in which my family finds itself, where things like this happen.

16 comments:

Angela@RecipesFromMyMom said... Best Blogger Tips

Nancy, I'm so sorry to hear about the fire and your parents losing their home. There's just no way to prepare for unexpected tragedies and all your emotions are understandable. I hope the police are able to catch whoever started the fire and bring some justice to this horrible situation.

Bridget Duffy said... Best Blogger Tips

Nancy,
Thank God your parents are ok! I am so very sorry to hear of the loss of your parent's home. The thought of losing the house, the contents and all of the memories that make it home is heart wrenching.

I still live by Ashmont Station. if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know!

Bridget

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

@Angela@RecipesFromMyMom
Thanks, Angela, I appreciate your thoughts.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

@Bridget Duffy
Bridget, thanks so much for the condolences and offers of help--I really appreciate it. And it's nice to know that you're still in the neighborhood.

Not Just Another Jennifer said... Best Blogger Tips

That's terrible! I'm so sorry your family is going through that. Stopping by from BlogKC. (Sidenote: I think it's great that you are including everything in your blog. Even the bad stuff. That's life.)

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

@Not Just Another Jennifer
Jennifer, thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. And you're right that that's life--like it or not!

Ruth said... Best Blogger Tips

How awful for your poor parents, having their home destroyed in such a callous way. And how awful for you, having to sift through burned rubbish to try and salvage precious possessions. I hope the situation is resolved, even though finding the culprits won't bring back the family home, and that your parents can soon make a happy and safe home somewhere, if not there. Hope you're ok, love to all three of you. x

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

@Ruth
Thanks, Ruth.

Linda Valenti DeVincent said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh no - I just read this today! I'm so sorry for your family's loss, not to mention how difficult this must be for your parents to be displaced. It is a blessing that they got out unharmed, but I know that moving older folks from where they know can present with different problems. Please let me know if there is anything we can do. If there is salvage work, Peter knows contractors that do wonderful work. We're happy to do whatever we can.

figjamandlimecordial.com said... Best Blogger Tips

Nancy, I'm so sorry to hear this. As our parents get older, we start to feel as overprotective of them as we do of our children, so I can only imagine how you must be feeling. I understand what you mean by the "new normal" too - I hope you can acclimatise soon (if you know what I mean..). All the best.. xx

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

@Linda Valenti DeVincent
Linda, thanks for your kind thoughts and offers of help--I may take you up on recommendations when we get a bit further along in the insurance process.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

@figjamandlimecordial.com
Thanks Celia--working on acclimatising and taking each day as it comes. I appreciate your thoughts.

Jessie said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh no! I hope everyone is doing ok. How devastating to be displaced from the place that holds 50 years worth of memories.

Mark Scarbrough said... Best Blogger Tips

I'm so very sorry about this. It's so wonderful that you can go to Boston--but I'm sure it's wearying and draining. Please do the things to keep your mind and body in peace, in grace.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

@Jessie
Thanks, Jessie--everyone is doing as well as can be expected, and trying to take it one day at a time.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

@Mark Scarbrough
Thanks, Mark, for your thoughts, and for the reminder to keep breathing as well as keep moving. As my sisters and I keep reminding each other, this is not a sprint--it's a marathon.

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