When we needed to sell our little slice of heaven – our beautiful little home, newly renovated and updated, landscaped yard full of shrubs and roses and tulips and a plum blossom tree right outside of our bedroom window – it was hard. It was a small home but held so many precious memories – such as the fact that we brought most of our children from the hospital to this home – their home. We even had a playhouse in the backyard that my mother had painted some flowers and decorations on it for them. It truly was beautiful.
The market was just recovering when we sold the home so although we didn’t lose any money with the sale we really didn’t make anything either. The person we sold it to loved the home, however about six months later he was transferred down to the coast so he had to sell it. At that time the market had done a fair amount of recovery and he made almost $40,000 profit. The new owner used the home as a rental unit and it wasn’t long after that a family with three young children moved in.
I would often drive by the place, a smile appearing on my face when I did so as I was reminded of all the amazing memories that home held for me. I was getting frustrated in those later times as it was clear that the family was not taking care of the place – or at least the beautifully landscaped yard. It was breaking my heart to see our once beautiful home begin to deteriorate. I stopped driving by the place, insistent that I try to get on with my life.
Fast forward to a few months before we were leaving for the middle of the prairies. Our home that we were renting on that short term was situated only a couple of blocks away from our old home.
One very painful afternoon I was at home when the loud thump, thump, thump of helicopter blades was heard above our place. This is an unusual sound for the valley city and so it caught our attention and the attention of the neighbors. Soon the radio rattled off some news and there were police emergency response crews scattered about the neighborhood. Looking up in the sky we could now see that the source of the noise was a police helicopter, which had been brought in from a neighboring larger city.
A man was on the loose, considered very dangerous, and people were encouraged to stay inside with locked doors. The whole scene played out like something you might see on an American police show. It was scary to be in it, especially not knowing clearly what was going on – only that there was a manhunt underway. I brought our children in from outside and we waited. After what seemed a very long time the activity left our neighborhood and I needed to rely on the news and local chatter from the neighbors to fill in what happened next.
The manhunt went on for a week with the police struggling to try and locate this person. In the end it was a widely known ‘character’ from a backwoods community about 10 minutes out of the city who had enough of the police’s incompetence. He brought in his hunting dogs and went out solo to track down this criminal. This character was known to be an amazing tracker albeit not very personable, preferring to stay out of the public’s view and wasn’t shy in using one of his shotguns to encourage you to stay away if needed. It was this character who found the criminal hiding in the mountains surrounding this valley city, lost, battered, and worse for wear after having to try and survive out in the wilderness for close to a week. The community was relieved when the police apprehended the man.
I mention all of this not because of the sensationalism of this story or how much press it has received over the years and still does to this day but because of where this man’s atrocities occurred. I spare you the details because they are too disturbing to write about and really they are inconsequential to my story. What is important here is that what this man did – he did in my old home.
I couldn’t believe it. A home, once filled with love and laughter and the giggles of our children running and laughing and playing was now surrounded with police tape and guarded 24 hours a day – the whole home a crime scene.
The home was never occupied again. It sat there abandoned. A stark reminder to the community and to me of the horror that happened. It was only in the last couple of years that the home was finally destroyed. I read the newspaper that featured the story on its front page, showing pictures of a backhoe tearing down this place and leaving just an empty lot once. I cried again when I read that story.
I am reminded of my birth place and how there is now no longer any memory of the hospital where I was born. Nothing physical to remind me or others that I once existed in that place. It was as if I had been erased.
And now, my home. Gone. Of course I supported such a move. Anything less would have been so very wrong. But still. In the moment the parallelism is remarkable to me. My home destroyed. Nothing physical to remind me or others that I once existed in that place. I had been erased once again.
Just weeks before we were to pack up and leave this city and leave this province – forever. I now needed to look ahead to where home might be. I was a wanderer in a strange land, looking for a place to lay my head down. Looking for a new beginning.
But for now, I would allow myself the freedom to cry. To shed tears for so many reasons. To be lost in the moment, overcome with grief, and overcome with loss.