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This recovery from the wildfire that ate our house, our neighbors houses and a thousand acres around us is exhausting. I have felt homesick off and on for months. Neighbors tell me the same. All of us are exhausted, in part from not being able to go home and truly relax.

For our family, we fluctuate as to what makes us exhausted. Grief alone will knock you off your pins. Trying to figure out what needs to be done, do it and then make sure everyone knows that you did it is tedious and time consuming. Worry is perhaps the most exhausting of all.

The house is not moving fast. Thankfully the weather is still holding somewhat but not for long. I am in charge of the house. I don’t make all the decisions but for the family I am the front-line. I am fretting over the plans, I am fretting over the toilets, I am fretting over permits, I am fretting over the winter, I am fretting over making mistakes, I am fretting over spending more money on anything than I have ever done before.

Fretting is a mild word for the feelings that sweep across a few times a day. Lack of sleep is probably accountable for most of those feelings of malaise but sleep would be easier without all the fretting.

The stress of dealing with having to replace your whole life is probably not a lot more than other stress but it is concentrated. It as if all of the things you deal with for a year or more are right in front of you demanding your attention. If you forget to respond you find that you don’t have something as fundamental as socks. In the end, I think that it is so exhausting because you have no respite from it. You cannot go home, kick your shoes off, get a cup of tea and just rest a bit.

Thinking of that calls to mind the time before my mom died when I lived with her more time than not for over a year. She resided on the east coast and I here in the Rockies. As she came near to succumbing to the cancer that took her, she chose to go into a long-term care facility. I was distraught because she had wanted to die at home but she insisted she wanted to go to the facility. I came back to the Rockies for a while but as she worsened, I went back to be with her. Soon after I stayed most nights with her at the facility sleeping in a chair or on a cot that the staff kindly brought me. After she died I rattled around in her house trying to get oriented. After months like this I could not quite feel at home in my house or in her house. It was as I was suspended somewhere between her house, a cot in a hospital room, Delta Airlines and my own house. It was confusing for a long time. I know from others who have experienced similar things that is is very hard.

When I came home full time it was three years before my house. I looked around and realized how much I had let my own house get into disrepair. I was feeling sad and exhausted but needed to be busy. I was plotting to build a bathroom and bedroom in my basement where it was framed and rough plumbed. My spouse was a little short on enthusiasm as far as I was concerned so we were waffling. One day we were both working in our office when we heard a big crash. Both of us went a looked around and could not find anything. We finally shrugged our shoulders and went back to work.

The next day as we were driving out to go to the office we saw that the front steps, the porch and part of the deck had fallen onto the ground from the 2nd story! Neither of us could help but laugh until our sides hurt. We always hated those steps.

It is a funny story now and I suppose some years from now there will be funny stories about rebuilding the house that lost its front. For now, I am homesick.

photo of living room with two upholstered wing chairs

This is a photo of my mom’s living room before she died. The chairs and foot stool, the table beside the chair and the lamp were in my living room when it burned. The clock that was my great-grandfathers was there too. The painting was in a guest room and the rug was in our bedroom. It was very thick and soft and felt nice on your bare feet.