Weep Not for the Memories

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I sat silent in the chair Monday night after reading a message from one of our friends in Cedar Rapids that the home Matt and I owned had been destroyed. 

“Destroyed?” I replied. 

“Yes, the big tree fell on it,” she said.

The tree she was referring to was a 100-plus-year-old white pine and the biggest tree in our old neighborhood. It was felled by the massive storm, called a derecho, basically an inland hurricane, that appeared to make its way downtown and through the city proper. Tens of thousands of people were without power in both Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, but Cedar Rapids took a lot of wind damage. 

The Internet was reported as spotty, but a handful of friends posted pics on social media, including downtown. Many of the buildings were missing part of their façade, roof or both. No photos of our old house, though. There were cars overturned and huge grain silos crumpled like a piece of aluminum foil.

As the evening went on friends posted more and more pictures of damage, found pets, including a small herd of horses, power outages and general destruction. Finally, Susan, whose family bought the house, posted videos on Facebook. 

The first video was of the once beautiful kitchen we remodeled and the screened in porch. The top half of the giant pine tree had sheared off that portion of the house, but the leaded glass light fixture was still hanging. 

In the second video, you can see most of the house intact, but the yard and all the trees, were destroyed. They had either been uprooted or had their leaves stripped and branches snapped off. The neighborhood we lived in was an oak savanna, and it was so sad to see massive oak trees shredded, including the one in the back yard. 

Apparently the upstairs was damaged as well, but there were no videos. I imagine the skylights busted apart and the built in bookshelf gone, especially since I could see part of the bookshelf in the kitchen.

Even though we no longer own the house, a wave of sadness washed over me, as if there had been a death in my family. We spent eight years and blood, sweat and tears making the house a home. We worked hard and were patient when we sold the house and found someone who loved it as much as we did. 

The house can probably be rebuilt and the memories remain, but seeing the video was like a gut punch. All that work and love we put in seemed for naught. My friend and her family, who are at least temporarily homeless, are still trying to grasp what happened. It makes my heart hurt to think of what they must be going through.

The Sarah McLachlan song “I Will Remember You” kept popping up in my head for the rest of the night, particularly the line, “weep not for the memories.” I have always taken it to mean be glad for the memories that you have, and I am.

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