My Dearest Wallace Grayce,
We built your home around you when you were still inside your mother.
We built it stronger and more sturdy than it needed to be. I thought a lot about every piece of wood and stone. Every knob and switch. We filled it with our books, musical instruments, and interesting animal bones. I imagined you looking down after a bath through the railing upstairs.
People who visited always asked about the overbuilt stoutness and soulfulness of our home. I always said that I built this house around my baby girl to protect and raise her, and her sister, to be strong and healthy. I hoped that it would instill a sense for natural quality, authenticity and design.
Your house in the redwoods, by the creek and ocean, lasted nearly 19 years.
It survived fires, droughts, floods, and earthquakes. It also survived some of our great parties, our friends’ weddings, holiday gatherings, and many sleepovers.
It held thousands of visitors, beautiful music, salmon dinners, and rich deep conversations. You were there for it all.
I had hoped that it would be yours some day and I was working hard to keep it.
The day after you left for college, it burned to the ground in a wildfire caused by lightning in the most beautiful storm I have ever seen. I believe it served it’s original purpose fully and completely.
All that remains standing is the chimney and fireplace that warmed us as we slept — it was built tall of stone to last for millennia.
You are strong, thanks to this home. You carry the memories of our canyon. You are made of Mill Creek water, the fruit from our trees, Swanton berries and Pacific salmon. You are my wild child.
I am so proud of you. I wish I could have protected our home from the fires. But I couldn’t and I didn’t.
But please carry the sweet memories with you wherever you go.
I love you, peanut.
Stay safe, study hard, and come home often for hugs. Please.
[Interview with Felix Cortez of KSBW and video of the fire area.]