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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

So Grateful

1st day of SoCal wildfires #9
I was reminded today by a good friend that I need to let everyone know that our family and home was safe from recent southern CA wildfires. Yes, we are safe in spite of a few scary days of recommended evacuation. I am ever so grateful as the news keep showing neighborhoods in ruins and families with nothing left. The thing I am impressed by is the constant message that these people are just so grateful to be alive and have their loved ones with them. I think we all believe that we would feel the same way in the face of complete devastation of all of our precious worldly possessions but I don't think we can really understand how it truly must feel. I try so hard not to be materialistic but I can't help but feel a sincere pang of sadness when I think of the possibility of losing many of my beloved belongings that have become sentimental items and have so many precious memories attached.

I was so moved by one story shared by a friend at church. She had read a story in the newspaper about a husband and wife in Rancho Bernardo (which was incidentally an area where we almost bought a home) who were trapped in their swimming pool for 3 hours while their home burned as they watched. Several years prior the man had lost his mother and had become very bitter and angry over the loss. Before her death she had written a note to him in the front page of a book including the words, "I will always be your guardian angel...". After the fire while sorting through the ashes the man found this one page with singed edges. He was completely changed by this and finally found peace with the loss of his mother and the loss of their family home.

I remember the feeling as we packed up one car full of kids and photos and journals and not much else and I walked through the house thinking to myself, I really do have everything that is really important. It took us 4 hours to get to a nearby city to stay the night with friends and the part of the fires that was close to our community was contained before we even reached our destination. I didn't have to fear that our home would be gone when we returned but this experience has changed me and really made me so grateful.

Here are some practical things for you to think about:

* Are you prepared with your 72-kit for each of your family members? (I had not updated to include baby Griffin's needs and had to rush around to make sure that I had diapers, baby food, etc.)

* Do you have your albums, journals, family history, etc. in a central location that you could grab quickly in the event of a swift departure? (I did not and had to spend a long time running around the house gathering)

* Do you have a plan for a location for your family to gather out of town? (We did not but my mom helped with a quick solution and a few phone calls.)

* Have you ever spoken to your children about natural disasters and how they affect communities and what will happen in the event one occurs in your community? (Thanks to recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, we have been given ample opportunity to discuss this sort of thing at dinner and while watching news so our children understood what it meant when I said, "Get your backpack and pack your special things." By the way-I cracked up at what they chose: Pinewood Derby trophies, a coconut sent by mail to them at Grandma and Grandpa's while Mike and I were in HI, tattered "Bones"-McCall's beloved stuffed puppy, and pictures of our dead dog Jackson were just a few.)


:: kerrie :: said...

I'm so glad you guys are ok. I've been thinking a lot about you all. I had a little tear in my eye with the "special things." I'm glad they still think about Jackson.

(On a not-so-serious-note: I don't know if you guys had an opportunity to wear your Halloween costumes, but I'd love to see the little Skunk!)

Cara said...

I'm so glad you are safe and your house didn't burn! I didn't think you would respond so quickly to my little comment on your blog. Way to go girlfriend!!! I have been thinking about you a lot and hoped you would be o.k. Thanks for the tips! I need to organize my pictures and my files. I don't have a 72 hour kit for Abby but was just looking at one today in the EE catalog. Thanks again!

michelle said...

This was great, Jen. First of all, I'm relieved to hear that you guys are all okay. Secondly, no, I am not all prepared for an event like that. It's really making me think. And lastly, I'm cracking up about their special things!

Jill said...

What a relief that you guys are safe and that your home is too! We were at the Wild Life Park today and couldn't believe all the burned ground we saw so closeby. Wow.

Kath said...

So fun to have connected with you through Jill's blog! I'm glad your family and home were safe from the fires. Both of my brothers now live in SD and thankfully didn't have to even evacuate.
I love the things your kids brought with them. We put our 72-hour kits together at the beginning of the year and my kids are DYING to use theirs...hopefully we will never have to but it makes me think I might want to have them add some "special things" in case we do have to use them!