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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Day Nineteen of Thirty-One: Not My Comb

When your house fills with flame, smoke, and heat beyond measure strange things happen. Things melt that you wouldn't expect. Other items become unrecognizable. Some items, however, even when they are no longer there, leave their mark.

Our bathroom, the day of the fire, had several items on the counter. It was messy. A hairspray bottle, the hair dryer, my comb, a few other odds and ends had not been put away. It was a Friday and I just left them sitting there that morning. Turns out, they sat there even after I went to bed that night.

The next morning, as Shawn and I walked through the house I had a compulsive moment. I grabbed a garbage bag from my neighbor's house and cleared off the counter in the bathroom. I think I was still in disbelief and at the same time thinking, I don't want all these people to see my messy counter.

Afterward, I just stared at the outlines. Each item telling me where it once was. Each item reminding me this was real. I was most amazed at the outline of the comb. It almost looked like it was still there. Like nothing happened. However, trying to grab it I was hit with the harsh reality that the comb was a ghost and not my comb.

We went to the house today. It is full of ghosts of what once was. So quiet. So cold. So sad. 


  1. It's very sad reading some of these stories. I am so sorry for what happened to your home. I will be glad someday to read about your new home.

  2. Your last line left me with an eerie feeling...and wanting to know more about your fire. That reminds me: I better go clean my bathroom counters!

  3. So many feelings in this post. I feel your sadness, a little wonder, a lot of eeriness at the end. I can't fathom all the feelings you have to work through.

  4. I could feel your loss especially at the end when you said " full of the ghosts of once was". Hopefully when your new house is in it's place it will fill that void.

  5. That picture is so eerie, Betsy.

    Recovering from a loss like the one you suffered is pain-staking. I cannot imagine what you, Shawn, and the kids are going through. While I'm sure people are constantly trying to placate you to tell you "it's just stuff" and "it can be replaced;" all of these things -- this stuff -- are what make up a life.

  6. Betsy, I'm just learning what happened in your life and I'm so sorry. Thank you for your courage to share some of what you grapple with on a daily basis with this community. Thoughts are with you :)

  7. Betsy, I can picture so much from you words, and yet I really cannot imagine at all what all of this must be like- to live. Your last five sentences are ringing in my head. I am hoping that writing is helping in some small way for you. You have so many powerful pieces here this month.

  8. I can relate to the need to clear off a counter- I'm always leaving things out. Your last lines... the ghosts... I'm very sorry. I hope writing about your experiences and feelings let's you unpack some of the burdens and sadness from this tragedy.

  9. I feel the heaviness of your words.
    It's so good to put this in words.