This morning, in the chilly half dark, I passed the houses along the route that leads to my favorite path. The acrid odor of burning electrical wires grew strong when I neared a ramshackle, uninhabited house that is the neighborhood eyesore. Yellow fire scene tape, barely visible in the dim light, stretched along the chain link fence surrounding the property, and I resolved to retrace my steps and get a better look near the end of my walk.
The clear light of day revealed the extent of the damage. The roof of the small, ranch house had caved in. Two sides of the house were burned away. The interior walls had collapsed. The house’s contents were unrecognizable, melted lumps of goo.
Yesterday, when I walked by, the house had been standing–in need of paint, sporting several broken windows, the yard shaggy and neglected–but it was still there.
This morning it is gone.
I am once again aware of how quickly and completely life can change.
I stared at the house and thought of when I first learned that lesson: the day my father died. For 38 years, my mother, my siblings and I watched multiple sclerosis rob Dad of the ability to walk, to write, to read, to control his bodily functions, to think clearly, to speak, and to feed himself.
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