Part 8

The Grief That Knows No Home

An emotional Michele Larche looks at photos of her home in New Orleans sent by a friend who had stayed in the area.
An emotional Michele Larche looks at photos of her home in New Orleans sent by a friend who had stayed in the area. (By Michael Temchine For The Washington Post)
By Lonnae O'Neal Parker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Eighth in a series chronicling the Larches of New Orleans as they rebuild their lives in the Washington area

On the drive to New Orleans, Todd Larche ordered two dozen roses, yellow and red, friendship and love, for his wife. Michele had called him as he headed down Interstate 95 last week, needing him to understand how badly she wanted to make the trip, how upset she was that she couldn't because of the baby. Needing him to get that she aches, physically aches, for all the things she had back home.

For Todd, driving on adrenaline from his in-laws' house in Silver Spring, trying to prepare for what he was about to see, it was like this: She couldn't make the trip so she had to stop upsetting herself, and him and maybe their unborn child. He'd gotten short with her, so he sent flowers to smooth things out.

"I'm sorry it's such tough going, but together we can get through anything. Hang in there. Love, Todd," the card had said.

"I thought the flowers would make everything better," he said when he got back. "I guess there's nothing that can make this better."

When Todd returned Sunday afternoon, he didn't want to talk about lost things, moldy things, dead and decayed things. He didn't want to show his wife the video he'd made or say anything to upset her. They had already cried together when he called from New Orleans to say their Rottweiler had died and most everything in their house was gone. He wanted to leave it at that, and Michele didn't press him. But the next day, he started talking about his rescued hat and watch and his beer memorabilia, and she had questions:

Where was the disc with Kristen's baby pictures?

Did you look inside the gentleman's chest?

Why does it seem you retrieved only your things but nothing that meant the world to me?

Todd got defensive. "You have no idea what I've been through," he yelled.

Michele got angry. "That's because you're not telling me anything," she yelled back.

With only his father and her mother in the house, the Larches argued with all their pent-up hurricane emotions.

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