A few years ago, just about the time I was nine months pregnant with my youngest child, our house burned down.
It started out like a usual day…we visited Granny for a while, and then headed home so that my oldest, who was just shy of two, could take a nap. Being enormously pregnant, I decided to try and nap as well, because sleep was in short supply with a 10-pound baby kicking my ribs each night. Just as I was about to doze off, I realized that I could hear leaves rustling at a ridiculously high volume, and the sound seemed to be coming from INSIDE the house. I got up, and opened the laundry room door, only to have a wall of fire rush out to meet me.
I grabbed my son and made it out without even shoes on my feet…not good in February. One hour later, despite the heroic efforts of our volunteer fire department, we were homeless, without even a change of clothes to our name. The only saving grace of that hour was my husband, who ventured into the smoking rubble to retrieve a pair of my slightly melted shoes, and a kind fire-fighter who left the scene and returned with a package of diapers, baby wipes and a box of sippy cups.
The next weeks were a blur. Losing everything was bad enough, but losing everything when I was in imminent danger of giving birth at any second was like an endurance test of my sanity, and my poor husband’s patience.
In between the months of moving, rebuilding, birthing and recovering, we managed to fish quite a few things out of the rubble. Most of these things, we tossed in boxes and shoved into storage to try and salvage at a later date. Some things were saved, most were not.
This weekend, my husband was cleaning the garage, and came across a forgotten box of soot-covered items. He managed to recover a picture of me and my best friend from middle school, a piece of my aunt’s pottery, a commemorative beer stein from my senior class, and a picture from my climbing trip to the Grand Tetons.
It’s amazing that, six years later, these items can still bring me to tears. Though we emerged from the fire better, stronger and happier than ever, I still sometimes find myself looking for something that I’ve forgotten was lost. It’s a bittersweet joy when something is found.