Groggily I rolled over, wondering why my alarm on my phone was on the other side of the room. As I sat up, I realized the sound was not coming from my phone, but from Wanderstead Husband’s. He too was in a bit of a daze, but picked up the ringing phone, wondering who could possibly be on the other end at this hour.
I glanced at my phone. 3:04.
I watched as Wanderstead Husband, upon hearing what the caller said, stood up, and started walking with determination out of the bedroom down the hall. Then I heard one word through the phone.
Stumbling through the dark kitchen, we both looked out the window, shocked to see a tremendous orange glow coming from the mountains to the north-west of the house. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
The howling wind outside snapped me out of my daze, as I realized it was possible we were in very real danger. I ran to our son’s room, woke him and told him to start packing. “We have to evacuate, there’s a fire coming”. Silently, he got to work. As if we had planned this.
Those 45 minutes of gathering items were really telling. What did I take? Knowing it was very possible that I might not return home, what did I feel was important enough to take along with me? And what stayed?
Irreplaceable photographs went.
So did a handful of personalized gifts from the children.
Family heirloom jewelry.
Our cameras and computers.
A suitcase with clothes – nothing special. A few long sleeved items, a few short sleeved items, lots of underwear and socks.
Comfort items for my daughter. Her favorite stuffed animals. One or two toys that she always plays with. No matter what was to come – I knew she would need some normalcy and familiarity.
The paw-prints of our deceased pets, Allie and Lucy.
Pillows and some blankets.
Cell phone and cash.
Sippy cup and snacks.
Art on the wall.
Vital documents (birth certificates, pink slips, SS cards, passports)
Pets and pet food
It wasn’t that there wasn’t other important stuff. But in the heat of the moment, those were what I grabbed. Those were the “must gets”.
And when I jumped into the car and began driving away, I felt ok. I was scared, and I was worried…but I knew the things I most cherished were with me.
That one hour window opened my eyes. Ironically, just the previous week I had been talking to Wanderstead Husband about how I wanted to purge some of the items in the house. Slim down what we have. Kind of minimize the “stuff”. But it’s always hard for me to do that. I get attached to silly things for no reason. Why? I don’t know. Because I *might* use it someday in the future. Or because so-and-so gave it to me.
Monday morning, however, as I was reflecting on what I had in my car and he had in the truck, I realized the other stuff is replaceable. Even to me. That maybe those things don’t hold the value I thought they did.
Yes, I love them. Yes, I appreciate them. But when it comes right down to it, the biggest hangups are me.
We have now returned home. Our house is safe. Our property is safe. Our neighborhood is safe. Just down the road, there is a very different story.
That purging I have been thinking about is now a directive from myself. I DO NOT need all of those “things”. There are people with nothing at all and I can help them. I have started already, going through what we have.
This isn’t about purging anymore though. I’m not looking to offload junk onto those who lost everything. That isn’t helpful. I know I have some good quality items that can be put to use.
I know I keep coming back to this, but I am thankful and I am grateful that we were spared the horror that so many others are living right now. I will continue to do my part as best I can to help them to rebuild their lives.
**Preparing for a fire is something that everyone should be ready for. Take a look at this post written by my good friend. She has some excellent points and I for one know that we will be taking these steps to be even better prepared for next time –Fire Season and Family Emergency Evacuation Plan**