As I looked across our front lawn I saw my family’s past strewn everywhere. We are blessed however since none of us were affected physically by the flood, but we will go through some emotional stress. We did lose one of our dogs as we evacuated however. I can identify most everything in the piles, a bedframe from my son’s bedroom, vinyl albums and DVD’s we have collected over the years. What hurts most is seeing old VHS tapes of our kids when they were young, bringing them home from the hospital, school presentations and other accomplishments. In another part of the pile I see stacks of photo albums. I go see if there is anyone of them I can save. I open the one on top of the stack and it is of one of our vacations we took to Disney World. The pages and pictures stick together from the flood waters. I throw the album back onto the pile.
We were sitting in the front yard when volunteers were bringing things out of our house, it was so overwhelming to us to help with the chore. The volunteers were so good to us, they would tell us that “… we have this, go outside and show us where to put the things that might be saved.” The most difficult moment for Jennifer and Allison is when the piano was brought out by a group of guys and was set on the grass. It fell on its back and you could hear the strings inside reverberate. Jennifer’s Dad restored that piano and gave it to our family years ago. Allison loved that piano and played it a lot to relax after a tough day. Looking at that piano laying on its back in the wet grass was like seeing someone you love dying.
After a couple of days of the house being emptied of our belongings and walls, the house was void of all life. It was a shell of our former home. We rented a storage unit nearby to keep what could be salvaged. After many trips of taking things from the yard, the 10’ x 20’ was not as full as I thought it would be, it was a testament of all we lost.
Funny how even though what was left in the piles in the yard, we were protective of other people digging through the pile looking for anything of value. What we had given up for lost, we would still protect it from being taken. We had to learn to let go. After days, even weeks we did find things that could be salvaged. The piles remained in the front yard and driveway for about 6 weeks. Every afternoon when we drove up to the house to do some work, the painful part was seeing the debris of our former life on display for all to see.
When the debris was finally taken away, we still find things that are pounded into the ground by the weight of the pile and treads of the front end loader as it loaded the trucks. The grass was scraped away and all that is left of our front yard is packed mud gumbo with small bits of debris scattered. In the late afternoon sunlight you can see the reflections of a thousand broken pieces of glass and mirrors as well as a random part of chrome from a lost bathroom fixture barely sticking out of the ground.
Thinking about the debris pile reminds me of a sermon by Dr. Francis Schaeffer called ‘Ash Heap Lives’. The sermon pointed out that all the things we have in our lives will all end up in the Ash Heap. He said when you shop for a car, test drive it past the junk yard to remind yourself where this car will eventually end up.
After reflecting on all that is lost, I have no regrets, after all it was just stuff. Yes, we lost a lot of things that meant so much to us but we still have our memories of the good times. Our home is being rebuilt and we have been blessed. There are many around us that have not progressed as well as we have. Some had no insurance and still struggle for the most basic things. I pray for those who lack for a home. We are living in the house now but it sort of feels like an inside campout. We recently got our new beds which brought us closer to home.
The best thing that came out of all this is the people reaching out to help in so many ways. Starting with working in the house to sending us things we needed and those who provided for a place to stay. We stayed at six different places during our time away from home and we are grateful for each place. I pray for blessings for everyone who helped in so many ways.
It is as if we turned the page in our life. Remembering the old but looking forward to the new.