Tuesday, July 25, 2006


It's about

The good news is that my brother-in-law will not be returning to the active duty Army on Sunday.

The bad news is that a fire completely destroyed my sister's house. Their stuff is gone. It is a mass of charred lumps on the front lawn. Sitting there, it's a compost of memories. Clothes merge into a coffee table into a stuffed animal into puke yellow clods of insulation.

One of those zen assholes, you know the type, the ones you're supposed to murder if you ever meet them on a highway, might say that it was just a bunch of stuff.

No shit.

That position seems ultimately untenable. Our whole lives are nothing but a bunch of stuff. The people we talk to, fall in love with, they're all just meat and chemicals - a bunch of stuff. The things we know, the things that keep us here, in this world, they're all stuff.

Stuff is all we've got.

Really, I'm just thankful that they weren't at the house when it started. That my brother-in-law wasn't sleeping the deep sleep of a PTSD veteran. That my nephew wasn't upstairs in his crib. That nobody was sitting on the back porch enjoying the country air.

Not being there while their home burned was hard, but not so hard as being there.

Two cats are no longer with us. They were trapped in the basement where the fire didn't do much damage but the smoke sucked the oxygen out of their lungs. One of the cats was eight years old, rescued from a shelter and bottle-fed. The other was pure-white and deaf and drooled when she received a good scratch behind the ears. They were as much family as anyone else. Those were hard losses to take.

I mentioned that it's about videogames.

My brother-in-law is a sensitive guy. He's big, but quiet, so you almost don't notice him. I worry, because he doesn't express himself easily.

He talked a lot tonight about his Playstation 2 and how he had lost all of his baseball seasons. That was one of his big losses and I could feel it in his voice.

Those seasons meant something to him.

He's going to get another Playstation 2 and another baseball game. He'll play many more seasons.

That will be his connection to those memories, charred and reeking of smoke , on the front lawn. A videogame will be a bridge between where he was before and where he's going.

It's just a bunch of stuff that matters.

1 comment:

Corvus said...

Oh, that's so hard. So many memories, so much investment of time, energy, and money. The loss of two friends makes it so much the worse.

I'm glad sis and BIL and nephew are fine. I'll keep them in my thoughts.