A year later, while looking back at the flood and waiting on Hurricane Matthew, this truth remains the same. I don’t think any of us will ever see “far off” disasters on the news in quite the same way. We have learned first hand how long and painful the rebuilding process can be.
“It’s just stuff and can be replaced.”
“This makes us realize what’s important.”
We say these things to ourselves immediately after a tragic event. Friends say it as a means of encouragement as well. While these statements are absolutely true, the rush of adrenaline and gratitude will eventually turn into the reality of overwhelming loss.
We have all spent the last few days helping our neighbors affected by the floods. I’ve seen my friends lay their entire lives in their front yard-displayed for the world to see. There have been many tears (the task ahead is daunting) and even a few laughs (you own how many pairs of the same shoes?). As I peeled apart saturated family pictures and kindergarten artwork, bagged mud covered day gowns from long ago, or worked to save old family furniture, I just kept thinking…this stuff matters.
This world has become a scary place and our security has been shattered. Police shootings? Floods? In our little corner of the world? It’s more than unsettling to see we are not immune to the tragedies told on the daily news. We were the news.
We are all modern day cave dwellers, instinctively working hard to provide safe havens for our families. Whether we have been blessed with family heirlooms or we are creating our own story for the next generation, the things we choose to surround ourselves with tell our story. They give us and our children roots, security and a sense of place.
In my mind, grieving over our stuff is not superficial at all. Perhaps we shouldn’t dismiss it by making an unfair comparison. Instead, as with any loss, maybe the best thing is simply to say, “I am so sorry. I came as soon as I heard.”