This is the post I’ve been avoiding writing. I didn’t want to dwell, but feel the need to record what was a shocking and sad day in my hometown.
Our historic, picturesque little downtown blew up.
The blast took with it a beloved local bar, a restaurant, an art gallery, and a children’s store. In an instant that fateful morning, four buildings that had stood over 100 years … vanished. Windows as far as five blocks away were blown out. And adjacent buildings lucky enough to still be standing were quickly ravaged by fire.
MP and I were in the car, driving to town minutes after it happened. She pointed out the massive black plume visible 10 miles in the distance. My first thought was that a plane had gone down. We heard otherwise as we walked through the door to her preschool.
Once at work, information began pouring in. I learned the art gallery was affected and immediately thought of Tara, an employee. I knew her because my dad was a long-time exhibiting artist. I knew her because she was the little sister of a boy I went to high school with.
I called Bobo, told him the news, and expressed my concern about Tara. “Naah,” Bobo said. “They were never in before 10. She’s fine.”
Only she wasn’t. Tara had gotten to work early that morning, and was talking to her friend on the phone when the line went dead. People have speculated that’s when she flipped a light switch that ignited a natural gas leak, although no one really knows. It took three days to recover her body.
Amazingly, Tara was the only one to die. Had the explosion happened 12 hours later, it would’ve taken with it a bar and restaurant full of patrons. It’s hard to think about. The ‘what-ifs’ are too heavy.
Just three days prior, The Boy and I were in the bar that’s no longer there. Having a beer and a shot on a Monday afternoon.
This could very well be the last photo that was taken inside those walls. Damn, life is short.