What would you take?

Photo_10Adam sent this to me yesterday via his phone with the message:
"3 blocks away."

I recognized the intersection immediately.  My friend, Kristen lives at the end of that street and yes, they had to evacuate their home and are safe and staying with friends. (Thank you, God!)

The story is the same all around us. 
My nieces in San Diego - evacuated.
Helen's in-laws - evacuated.
Friends in the canyon - evacuated.
Friends in North San Diego - evacuated.
What can we do to help? Nothing.
So we pray.

We are besieged by the smoke, but not in any immediate danger.  (Thank you for your prayers.)
It just really hurts to breathe.

I wander around my home disturbed with this unanswerable question inside me:

"What would you take?"

I am immediately detached from the present and remember another time in my life where my parents had to make that decision. 

It's 1961.  We are fleeing our homeland. 

"What would you take?"

For me as a five-year-old, that was a no-brainer.  My dolls, of course!  My most precious possessions at the time.  I can't imagine what that moment must have looked like for my mom.  My dad had already fled the country with an overnight bag and his passport.  She had had to send her only son out of the country on the first Pedro Pan flight.  (What was he allowed to take?)

Faced with the idea of evacuation I try to relate to their situation and the question suddenly feels impossible.

"What would you take?"

The most common answer is:  "My pictures."  I guess that really translates to "my memories, my stories."

I realize that that's exactly what my parents did.  They took their children, their memories, their stories, their hopes, their fears, their love, and a few pictures, too.  In other words, the things that were irreplaceable.

So I rephrase the question:

"What things are irreplaceable?"

  • My family.
  • My friends.
  • My memories.

It's funny how short the list becomes when you have to decide what really matters.
The rest is just stuff.

(It's a little easier to breathe now.)