There’s that old “cliché” or general sentence that millions of people say all the time…the one about material possessions meaning nothing and that people are all that really matter in this life.
In the middle of a tragedy people say that a lot. Too much. Especially once the tragedy is over and every human is alive, well and accounted for. Once that is a known truth – then pretty much the first words out of anyone’s mouth that you meet will say, “Thank God no one was hurt.” Or “You’re so lucky no one died. Or “You can replace things but you can’t replace people.”
I wanted to shank them in the lips every time they said it.
I wanted to scream, “SHUT THE F*CK UP!!!” as I wallowed in the pain of what I lost, felt like I couldn’t get up off my knees and couldn’t stop hating God.
Because you see – after every human that I love was fine…the possessions meant everything. Maybe they shouldn’t – but the reality is that they do. The other reality is that you can’t replace everything. That’s a damn lie.
I know when people said that to me and our family after the flood took away my parent’s home in less than 5 minutes – that it came from love. It came from a good place. It came from a place of not knowing what else to say. It always came with hugs and tears falling down their cheeks.
But I still cringed every time I heard it.
Lately I’m being reminded of the loss of the physical things. Why now? After all, it’s been months since family randomly called me to say, “The house is no longer standing. It was torn down today.” It’s been exactly that long since I’ve wept or cried a single tear about that house and that day.
They tore down the house and all that remained were cement pads and a few other boards so people driving by knew at some point there was something there.
In the last few days though, men have been ripping up the last shreds of any human life there. The lot has to legally be returned to nature. In a few months – there will be no remnants of our family left.
I still can’t look at it when I drive by. I swear to you if I even catch a glimpse it’s like a dagger being shoved in my heart and I inhale my breath and the pain comes back until I let out my breath.
Every time that happens I wonder, “When will I able to look there and not feel pain?”
When will I ever not be angry at the possessions we can never get back? Possessions that others say don’t matter – because we all survived.
The spot in the garage where Rambo first kissed me. The room upstairs I ran to when anything in life hurt me.
Things like those meant everything but the worst one I think is my baby pictures and all the pictures of my siblings and I growing up. The ones that tell stories about our childhood.
The pictures of homemade birthday cakes and slumber parties. The rare pictures of my Dad holding me as a baby. The one with us and our pet dog named BJ. The proof that my kids look just like I did when I was little.
I miss the stories that those pictures would have made me remember. I miss that without them I won’t remember and won’t tell my kids.
The depth of sadness over never sharing an album with my kids or grandkids or even Rambo hurts at the core of who I am.
But everyone is alive. So people think it shouldn’t still hurt.
Everyone survived. It shouldn’t still be hard to look at that blank piece of earth where I spent summer days playing.
When I drive by lately and they are down there wiping away any remnant of what existed…part of me wants to run screaming at them, “STOP – get away. Get off MY property.”….right before I remember it’s not mine anymore. I suppose it never really was. I never really owned it….it owned me.
It came from nature and it’ll go back to nature. Animals will be its only inhabitants. And under the dirt and washed away in the flood rivers go those precious possessions that I can’t let go of.
Yes, it is true. Lives and people matter so much more than possessions. But I find that once lives and people are all okay – the only thing your mind focuses on are the possessions lost.
I’ve even figured out the reason behind the flood…that even a year ago I didn’t know. I get it. It makes sense. I’m no longer angry. But I’m still pretty bitter.
And sad. Ateensy part of me will always be sad.
That the rooms and pictures that told the story of my life are gone….and nothing can bring them back. While it’s true they remain in my head…pictures jolt the memory and in time, memories fade – while pictures do not.
It’s simply not fair.
I’ll always be grateful that possessions are the only things we lost that day. But I’m not too proud or ashamed to admit that damn….some of those possessions sure meant a hell of a lot to me.
Call me shallow if you must.
It's the truth.