What would you take if you had to evacuate your home?
I’ve planned for this imaginary disaster since the moment my daughter died. Her valuable possessions, the things that touched her body; clothing, stuffed animals, blankets, her baby book-losing any of those items has been my greatest fear.
What would I take?
What would I have to leave behind?
How would I make these impossible choices?
I’ve prepared as best as anyone can for the unthinkable. A small fire safe is filled with a few treasured mementos, as well as important identification, passports and all our family certificates; birth, wedding and death included. But more than anything in the world, my daughter’s pictures are my ultimate prized possessions. I have an external hard drive, a thumb drive, dropbox and google drive full of the same photos that line my walls. As a precaution, I’ve even backed up my back-up photos.
So when the real fear of losing it all came to fruition, what did I grab?
The fire safe.
Her special quilt.
Her NICU blanket.
In that order and only because time allowed.
And that’s it.
My car was already full with my two living children, our family dog and the items we would need to survive. There simply wasn’t room for anything else.
Here in Northern California wildfires have exceeded the hillsides, jumped the freeway into major metropolitan areas and subdivisions. At this moment, the flames are less than 2% contained and continue to burn 90,000 acres of the surrounding cities in my county. So many families have lost their homes, their businesses, their livelihood and in the most awful of cases, their life.
My family is one of the fortunate ones, so far. We are still in the midst of a major natural disaster, but at this point we feel moderately safe in our hometown and in our home.
As I write this from my phone, my laptop is stored in the trunk of my car waiting for the call that we may need to leave our home for good this time. The gas to our house has been shut off for days. No heat, no cooking, no warm shower. The internet finally returned after being separated from local media for almost 48 hours.
But knowing that Mother Nature is all powerful and abides by no rules other than her own, I don’t dare breathe a sigh of relief yet.
Instead, I wait.
With my daughter’s ashes safely in our car.