In mid-January, I evacuated our country home because of a fast-moving fire, whipped by 80 mph winds that had blown the trash bins down the road several times that morning. A reverse 911 call instructed everyone in the neighborhood to evacuate.
I considered for all of 30 seconds whether or not to leave. Our one road in and out melded with a visual of the clogged roads in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Rousting Mom from bed where she had gone to nurse the flu, I said plainly, “No time for a shower. We have to leave.”
I made an armload: laptop, purse, checkbook and cash, 2008 tax records in mid-organizing. Off to corral the cat.
Animals have a special attitude that kicks in when something important like fleeing a fire tops the “to do” list. Tink didn’t appear at the rustle of the treats package. Damn!
We sheltered at my son’s house 30 minutes away, anxiously glued to computer and TV screens, awaiting periodic sheriff’s updates. Tink stayed on our laps, unsure about a field trip to someone else’s home.
Our house was spared by winds that didn’t turn northeast where it lay directly in the awful path. I thanked God for the firefighters’ efforts and the mercifully minor destruction, a miracle that nothing worse had happened.
Afterwards, I thought, “What a gift, to be required to decide at a moment’s notice, what’s important in my life.” It's like hitting the spiritual reset button.
It turns out that, as much as I love the family photographs, artwork collected from our travels, and treasures that map a lifetime, I’m not attached to any of those things. Just as I walked away that day of the fire, I know now that I could give up my possessions if I had my family safely with me. They would be enough.