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Some other beginning's end

It's one of those things that always happens to "someone else".  It'll never happen to me.  And yet, it did.  It happened.  It sounds like something you'd read in a tabloid or something you'd watch on a hyperbolic sitcom.  But it happened to us.  The house burned down and the dogs died.

I was young and ambitious when I bought the house.  More specifically, my wife was ambitious and her ambition rubbed off on me.  We bought the house with grand ideas of flipping it.  We knew there were things wrong with it.  The deck needed to be replaced and the windows needed to be replaced.  We wanted to refinish the hardwood floors and renovate the bathroom and kitchen.

It was fun.  We chased away opossums.  We renovated the bathroom and the kitchen.  It was great.  But then we started noticing other problems.  The basement leaked.  The roof leaked.  The water heater broke.  The air conditioner broke.  The water heater broke again.  After Karen passed away, I lost much of my energy to keep up with the renovations and I started to be overwhelmed by it all.

The drain in the bathroom started leaking, the water warped the vanity.  The leaky roof damaged the ceiling in the bathroom and closet.  The downstairs bathroom still needed to be renovated.  The basement leaks got worse and worse.  We got rats who started eating all our food storage.  Just one problem after another, and no desire and very little money to fix it.

Then, Monday night, I got a phone call from our house guest.  She just got home from work and opened the door and was met with a wave of smoke.  She rushed in and saw the dogs lying lifeless on the floor of the kitchen.  She called 911 and the firefighters came to extinguish what was left of the fire.  The whole house was covered in ash and smoke.  Fortunately, just the one room was destroyed by the fire.

The dogs died.  That didn't register at first.  I had to say it again.  They're not alive anymore.  They won't jump and bark and chew and run and whine.  They won't wag their tails.  They won't fight with each other.  They won't poop and pee and eat.  They're dead.  They died.

I knew how much those dogs meant to Conrad.  He loved them.  I knew how hurt he would be by their deaths.  I drove the 4 hours from my Atlanta apartment to Knoxville so that he wouldn't be alone on this night when he lost his babies.

The fire started as an electrical fire in the basement.  According to what the firefighters said, there was an electrical spark which ignited into flame.  The room where it started is completely charred and toasted.  Other rooms were covered in soot.  The dogs asphyxiated.  Konan was tightly gripping a blanket in his mouth when we found him.  Perhaps for comfort.

It has been a rough week for both of us  Conrad moved in with me.  It's been good to be back together.  We've needed each other, to comfort each other during this difficult time.  Conrad's going back up to Knoxville today to take care of a few things.  He'll be back tomorrow evening.

The insurance will cover the fire damage.  Things can be replaced.  The home can be rebuilt.  But the dogs cannot be replaced.  Konan and Cole will forever leave a hole in the heart of their two loving fathers.  It was so sudden, so unexpected, and they were so young.  They had just turned 1.

Life has been different during this week.  I have felt at times that as I go about my daily activities, I am not inside my own body.  That it is merely on autopilot, teaching and answering students' questions while I sit inside, bewildered and hurt.  I find that I think more often of Conrad and how he is doing emotionally.

The road to recovery may be long, but I am optimistic.  I have dealt with painful loss in the past, and I know I will in the future.  To me, the best thing to do is to celebrate life.  Konan and Cole were good boys.  They were always happy and always excited to see us.  They played hard and fought hard, and were fun to have around.  They took up a lot of room on the bed and we had to push them around while we slept.  It was great.  That time is over now, but it was great while it lasted.  And there will be many happy days ahead for me and my lovely fiancé.

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