Dear Janesy,


I have enclosed a photo of our old homestead, now yours.


I know you will think I have left you nothing but a money pit – a pile of debris, on land that may seem cursed, spurned for decades by God and Nature alike, and then … well, the terrible fire that ended everything, or most things.


As for me, I go on.


I know you will think either that I must hate you, or that I must be laughing at you from the Great Beyond, to have left you such a thing. But I know, too, that you will not resell it or walk away, abandoning it to time and weather, as others might have done.


You will regenerate the old place, regardless of its evident hopelessness. Actually, you will do it precisely because of its evident hopelessness. You are like that, I think. A curious girl, an enigmatic woman.


Yet here is a fact which will redeem me in your eyes, I hope; for, when you think of me, I wish it to be with love – or at least kindness – and not resentment, fear, or hate: there is something here, on this land, swirling in and around and through the house, permeating everything.


You would remember, perhaps, from when you were a child, visiting us at home on Sunday afternoons, playing in the back garden while your father drank coffee with your Grandpa Samson and me. You would have felt it brush past you while you scrambled through the shrubs with Marty, our hound. You would have felt it under your nails, while digging out buried treasures with our broken trowel. You would have inhaled its essence while clawing your way up through the branches and leaves of the oak tree, to perch on its ancient limbs.


It is an old something that dwells here – both unnamable and incomprehensible – yet it is as real as we are. You knew this as a child. I could see in your face that you did, though we never spoke of it. Perhaps it is some remnant of Time, or Nature, or God, which has not wholly abandoned us here, but which does nothing to explain itself, either.


I cannot tell you what it is, only that it is.


I cannot tell you, either, why I stayed here after the accident. I cannot explain what made me cling to an idea of living that others would find intolerable: old, alone, and impoverished, in a partially burned-out house, haunted by a memory of fire.


Yet I have not felt alone, or especially sad. And when I die – which will be soon, as I write this (and done, as you read it) – I will feel less alone, and less sad, still. I am sure of it.


Besides me, you are the most solitary person I know and also the most haunted, though for different reasons. Besides me, you are the most spurned person I know, though you have not earned it. As for me, perhaps I have, perhaps I have not. (Whichever way one looks at it, though, I am sorry for the fire.)


But this home I leave you, it will not judge you. You are welcome here, your past forgiven once you enter its gates to claim it as your own.


It waits for no one but you.




Photo by Sandra Peterson Ramirez.

Text by td Whittle.