Spent the day - all day - sifting through the blackened remains of my home with the cataloguing crew hired by my insurance company. Itemizing losses.
Itemizing losses. Twenty-plus years of memories and generations of family antiques and memorabilia reduced to lines on a sheet with an approximate replacement value and an age for depreciation.
Among the pots and pans, we found a simple utensil from when Sam was a Pampered Chef rep (which she only did long enough to get the discount on the cool gear), which triggered a million memories. Across the fridge, crisp black rectangles that were once photographs of the kids, or of Sam & me.
In the corner of the dining room, I discovered a pile of photos which must've fallen out of a box. Singed around the edges. The ones on the top and bottom were blackened and unrecognizeable. But in opening the pile to the middle, I found the picture of Sam feeding me cake at our wedding reception.
Even though I was kneeling solidly on my right knee and not crouching, I could feel it give way and my vision went misty with tears, like I was swimming in a badly chlorinated pool.
The ladies were understanding and let me take a break.
All in all, we spent a full work day picking through ash, describing what the ash used to be, figuring how much the ash originally cost and how long I'd owned the ash. I came home at 5:30PM, covered in soot and smelling like a strip club before the smoking ban, my nose and throat scratchy with dust and ash, one knee strained and a heart filled with angst and sorrow.
And tomorrow I get to do it all over again.
I would like to mention that the folks in the adventure game industry are some of the most incredibly kind and generous people I have ever met... and not met. Apparently there is a silent auction to be held at the GAMA Trade Show (GTS) this year - to benefit my family. Some folks have offered a number of favors, goodies, services and the like. And Matt Forbeck (who has contributed to several of my favorite RPG titles evar) posted a really unexpected and completely wonderful blog entry about me, my company and my family. As Matt says, we don't even really know each other personally (although we did meet at Gen Con 2003, if I recall correctly). And yet, when there's a man down, everyone rallies. As Rule #1 clearly states: Never split up the party.
Thank you all. You're amazing.