Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Beginnings and endings

My son and I took the bus to our new neighbourhood on Saturday. We walked around looking at local shops while I handed out resumes then took a walk around the outside of our new building and through the nearby park. Both of us agreed we couldn't wait until we moved. Everything is so close by and convenient. Three grocery stores, a big drug store, a mall, pet supply stores, bakery... the library just a walk through the park... conservation area a short bike ride away.

That night I packed a few more boxes and wondered at how quickly our home is turning into just another apartment. Each box removes a bit more personality. I looked forward to pulling everything back out in a few weeks and making our new apartment a home. Our days here are ending and our lives in a new home are about to begin.

On Sunday, son and I walked to my work to pick up a big packing box. Soon we noticed flashing lights ahead and a police car parked on the sidewalk. Then police tape came into view. My heart sank, and I commented to son that I hoped nothing happened to the elderly couple in the first house. We drew closer and realized it wasn't their house, it was the house my friend's ex-husband used to live in. Him and his girlfriend moved less than a year ago. They have shared custody and that was the night he always had the kids.

We walked past and looked at the damage. The front of the house looked the same but there were huge holes burned through the roof and the windows on the east side were charred and broken. I hoped no one was home and we continued on our way. Of course, before long we were informed by several people that three adults had died in the blaze. A tragedy for sure, but it didn't directly affect us. I was mainly relieved my friend's children weren't living there when the fire broke out.

I had a short shift at work yesterday and the phone rang within minutes of me coming home. It was my son and he was clearly in tears. He wanted to come home. Could he please come home? I, of course, asked why. 

"Mom, Hollie died. She was in the house that caught on fire and she died. Please let me come home."

We talk about how teenagers think they're immortal but that belief extends to adults too. I never thought I'd have to comfort my children over the death of a classmate, a peer, a friend. We walked home in the rain, while my son asked me all the hard questions. Why did she die Mom? Did she hurt? Why do bad things happen to good people? Could I have made a difference? What if I'd been allowed to be outside until after midnight? Could I have seen it and saved them? How come the fire hydrant didn't work? Who's supposed to check them? Why couldn't they get out? Why didn't the landlord have safer stairs?

We go through life blindly assuming everything will stay the same. If things don't work out today, we'll have another chance to make things better tomorrow. Like life has a guarantee. Hug the people you love today, tell your kids you love them, show your friends you care. As I told my son, there isn't a reason why. There's no one sitting there deciding who is going to die and who will live. Sometimes life plain stinks. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes wonderful things happen to bad people. All we can do is try our best to be good to the people around us. If their lives are going great we can make them even better. Otherwise, we can try to be a bright spark on a gloomy day.

Rest in peace kids... I hope you were aware in life how much you meant to so many people.

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