I think I understand, a little, how it must feel to see your house burned to the ground.
It’s just wrong. There should be a house there, not a pile of rubble and twisted metal.
I stand in my house and it’s like some kind of bad dream. It’s my house, but the walls are black, everything is coated black, even “clean” dishes in the cupboards. Circles of clean, white melamine appear as the cups and glasses are taken out for washing.
My hoarding is exposed to the magnificent women who deal with a mess that appals me, the men who calmly try to clean furniture.
I search for more cupboards to empty out, more trips to the skip. Plastic is all stained and tainted, electrical equipment suspect. As I look into the bathroom I am surprised by the charred beams and holes in the wall and roof. That's not how it's supposed to look.
The house would not have survived if Nev had not arrived when he did.
We are so lucky. We have stuff left to throw out. And precious things that have been saved. And some primal part of my brain is still panicking because my nest has been disturbed. I cope with it most of the time, but when I walk into what used to be my home, my brain freezes.
It's been three weeks since the fire.
Going into the house was easier today. The working bee that emptied, and either cleaned or sorted or threw out, had left an empty house than only bore a passing resemblance to my home.
After Nev and my tasks were complete, we headed into Yarra Glen for laundry and lunch. On the way down I detoured along Skyline Road. I last saw this road on the Sunday morning after the fires - Cody had wanted to see his dad's place. He was content to look from the road.
The fallen powerlines and trees still burning by the roadside were three weeks gone. The forest now stood, sticks of black with no leaves to shroud the views. Views of more black, patches of improbable green and houses that were no longer there.
The devastation put the stinking chaos in my home in perspective. There was still a roof and walls. It can be repaired. You can't repair a pile of rubble and a few twisted sheets of iron. You can only rebuild.
What sticks most in my memory of that drive are the view across to Steeles Creek, the black stain that had raced across the landscape, and the piece of salvaged sheet metal leaning against what I think used to be Leon's gate, an impromptu sign announcing, "COMING BACK".