I was sitting at home having a conversation with my mother, when I noticed that the sky was blue out of one window, but brown out of the other. My mother’s first thought which she immediately verbalized was, “There must be a fire nearby!” I didn’t think much of it because my mother has a tendency to come up with worst case scenarios at any hint of danger (her motherly instinct, I assume). But this time was different. We both left our seats for the front door and the strong smell of smoke came billowing in. All we could see were shades of brown and red. The sun was overwhelmed with a large ash colored cloud that quickly made its way across the sky. My first instinct was to check the news. And to my surprise, this fire was much bigger and much closer than I had anticipated. Evacuations had begun only a mile or two from my home. Things were getting serious.
“Will we have to evacuate?”
“How will my husband get home from work?”
“Should he come home at all?”
“What do I need to pack?”
“Where will we go?”
“Do we have fire insurance?”
All of these thoughts and more ran through my mind within seconds. I had never been in this type of situation before. I would occasionally consider these things when I’d see a PSA about emergencies, but didn’t spend too much time creating a plan. (I had a busy life, after all, and found myself too consumed with my day to day routine to be daydreaming about catastrophic events.)
But there wasn’t much time for my usual routine as this moment. In case the fire spread, we needed to be packed and ready to leave immediately. So, I began packing. My first thoughts went to photo albums and family memories. I then began to pack up our laptops and other important equipment that we depend on for our careers. I grabbed a large laundry bag and stuffed as many pieces of clothing as I could into it and crammed our shoes and underwear into a suitcase we kept in our closet. Next was our diaries, journals, and Bibles. There were other odds and ends I was able to stick into my purse and gym bag that I thought we might need for hygiene purposes. I had everything that I truly wanted to be saved packed away in my car. I figured that it would be better to have the time consuming task of putting all these things back where they belonged rather than to lose them all in the fire.
My father didn’t seem to be bothered by the news and believed that our house wouldn’t be touched. My mother and brother were in between, slowly beginning to pack but really waiting for the evacuation order. My husband went to his parents house (since he couldn’t make it home from the freeway closures) and suggested that my family come over there for the night regardless of what happens just to be safe.
I ended up going, but my family stayed. I am thankful to say that our home wasn’t affected by the Canyon Fire. But others weren’t so lucky. In the moment, all you think about is being safe and saving the things you care about most. But when it was all over, I was able to look back on my choices and found that it spoke of who I am and what matters most to me as a human being. Here is what I discovered:
1. My family is more important than material possessions. All night long I was checking on my family, making sure that they were alright. I didn’t care much about my things, I just wanted to know that my family was safe and protected.
2. I truly care about my creativity, creations, and ideas. Out of all the books I collected that night, the only ones I made a point to save we’re the ones I had written myself. My stories, thoughts, and feelings all documented. Those were precious to me.
3. I am capable of acting despite my fear. A big part of me was scared that night. But even though I was fearful of what could happen, I also knew that I had to keep moving, no matter what.
4. I have the capacity to let go of things that don’t really mean much to me. You never know how much something means to you until you’re faced with losing it. And for all my belongings, I knew that the most important thing was my family and my own life. Whatever else would hold me back from leaving in time was actually bad for me.
5. My appearance is important to me... a little too important. I’ll admit, I did try to save ALL of my clothes. But I believe a part of that was because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of finding clothes that fit me properly all over again (the first time was difficult enough). But I should have just grabbed a few things and went.
6. My family and I desperately need to be more prepared when it comes to emergency situations. We had no clue what to expect or how quickly the fire would come. Some said they had less than 10 minutes to escape before their homes were engulfed in flames. Wow... very eye opening indeed.
7. I am grateful for the things that I have. Each one is a blessing and I must see it as such, no matter where I am at in life.
So if you ever end up in a similar situation, remember this: Your life is made up of whatever you choose to consume your time with. And in the moments that matter the most, those are the only things you will have time to save. Make sure that they’re worth it and that you truly love them.
The FamGrowth Family