It’s been a heartbreaking week here in my hometown, so much devastation and destruction in such a short amount of time. Rain fell on our Louisiana homes on August 11, 2016 and kept falling, covering our streets, soaking our flowerbeds, washing clean our porches. It seemed like any other rainy day in Louisiana, but it was not.
It took us by surprise as it
6,900,000,000,000 gallons of rain fell and swept away our cities.
I saw a Facebook post that stated that of the 138,000 residents of Livingston Parish, 105,000 residents lost everything in this unexpected flood. Two of those 138,000 belong to me…my great Aunt Ruby, a 91 year old treasure. Seventy years in the same house. Seventy years of memories washed away in just a flash. And my Uncle J and Aunt Linda who celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary ripping sheetrock and carrying water logged furniture to the road in front of their home.
It has been a heartbreaking week.
Yes, it’s just stuff, but it’s their stuff, their stuff full of memories. I saved pictures from a drawer in my Aunt Ruby’s house, drenched and stuck together, carefully pulling them apart and laying them to dry in an effort to rescue. It was painful to have her sit in the
driveway as I dragged trash bag after trash bag of damaged pieces of her past to the road, discarded in the ruin. My heart broke sitting next to her as frail hands rummaged through an old box of photographs and letters that had been unharmed by the cruel rising waters. She’s a strong woman, you have to be to live widowed to 91 years old, but I watched her face as she remembered days gone by. A deep sadness lingered behind the gratitude she offered for the help and rescue. Yes, it’s just stuff, but it was her stuff.
Helping today at my other aunt’s house was just as heartbreaking. They were in good spirits, grateful to be alive and resolved to live with less from here on out but it was hard to see all of her beautiful furniture and rugs and curtains piled like trash outside of her front door.
Many Christmases and family get togethers have been spent surrounded by these hand-picked pieces. Walking through her house that smelled of mold and grime, the inmost parts of her house exposed, wood floors buckled, choking back tears, she turned to me and said, “Melissa Ayn look at my house!” My heart aches!
Yes, it’s just stuff, but it’s her stuff full of memories and time spent carefully choosing just the right piece for that corner to decorate and display, to delight and beautify.
Cleaning out an old purse I came across this pin that belonged to my grandmother –
Little reminders of her everywhere in this place
amongst the broken, damaged things of this house.
It is “just stuff” and our hope is not in our stuff.
I am blessed with a strong family of believers who hold firm to Matthew 6:19-20 which says “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven…”
Yes, we don’t hold too tightly to our stuff but when it is taken from us
without our consent,
without time to consider and make peace with letting go,
Life goes on and we persevere, that’s what we do! We hold tighter to family and the things in this world that really matter. We make resolutions to live differently and lighten our load (literally) as we say goodbye to “our stuff” knowing that in the end it wasn’t really all that important.
Today, I am thankful for the Godly heritage these beautiful people have passed down to me. Today, I am thankful for the opportunity to have been there for them and to have served them in their time of need. Today, I am thankful for community that cared for us all with lunch and supplies to help in our efforts to clean up and move on. Today, I am thankful for neighborly kindness. Today, I am thankful for all the memories all of their stuff afforded me. Today, I am thankful for letting go and moving on. Today, I am thankful to witness the strength of overcomers and this truth — our hope is in the Lord!