My baby brother lost his home to a fire on Monday night.  I feel so sad for him and his two girls. He has worked hard to be a good father and his girls adore him. They didn’t have a big house or lots of stuff, but they had just had a good Christmas because his ex had finally paid some back child support. They lost their clothes, their furniture and their home – which can, eventually, with great difficulty, be replaced.

But the part that will be gone forever are all the bits and pieces that make up their history.  Pictures. Books. Souvenirs from outings. Chatchkas collected here and there that mean home.

It isn’t the first time our family has experienced this, so I’m sure it must bring back terrible memories for my brother. When he was five, our family home burned to the ground.  Some clothes were saved because my mom had been in town doing laundry and there were bits and pieces at my aunt and grandma’s house and stored in the barn for various reasons. But other than that, all gone.

I had such terrible memories of that house. I know there were also good memories, but I’ve always been wired to remember the worst first.  So part of me is glad that I can’t ever walk into that house and remember the pain, fear and anger that made up so much of my childhood.

But for my brother and my two nieces, it’s different. That was their home – the place they were safe and loved. They are truly luck to be loved by one person with all his heart. A man who does his best to be a better father than he had.  A man who spent the week before Christmas redecorating his pre-teen daughter’s bedroom. Who let her have her girlfriends over to celebrate the new room with a sleepover.  Who, even now, is working to rebuild a life for his daughters. A man who will make sure they are safe and that they know they are loved.

Fire or no fire, I hope they know how lucky they are.

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