“Your wedding dress? What do you want me to do? It’s…” I don’t remember exactly what my mom said, but I got the idea.
“Ah, man! My wedding dress? I didn’t even think about that. I forgot that was in there. It’s damaged too? Well, everything is. It has smoke damage?”
“Well, yeah. We can try to have it treated,” she offered.
I don’t know how much exactly insurance covers, but I want them to use that for what they need or at least what can be used again. Neither of which applies to my wedding dress.
I turned to Alan. “My wedding dress? What do you think?”
It’s so silly. I mean, my parents lost everything in their house fire. Literally everything. My few trophies and wedding dresses and old letters were trivial. Why should I care about my wedding dress?
“Trash it,” Alan said.
Ouch. Men. They just don’t get it.
Me and my high school friends at my wedding. I was 21 when I got married.
My mom was on the phone, waiting for my answer. “Do you want some time to think about it, and get back to me?”
“No…I…uh…well, I mean, I…Alan says we should…um.” I couldn’t say throw it in the dumpster. I could not say those words…
“Well,” I continued in my bumbling, “No. I will let it go. It doesn’t fit. I will never be 115 pounds ever again. That’s not even… And I have no daughters, so there’s really no conceivable reason to keep it.”
“Are you sure?” Mom asked.
And that was that. The last few weeks I have so badly wanted to fly down to Alabama and be with my parents. Just to be with them through this great trial, as my brother, thankfully, has been. I wanted to stand on the lawn and help sort through what goes in the dumpster and what gets ozone cleaned. I wanted to be there. But I wasn’t.
It hurt. It hurt to know I could not be there, and I couldn’t. There are times that I could have, but this wasn’t one of them. Once you are married, you have an overriding duty to your family. Two become one, and this was my husband’s busiest hour. I had to step it up on the home front so that Alan could finish up his thesis. If I left, Alan would be left with a 2 -year-old, a 5-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 10- year- old. That thesis wouldn’t even be turned in yet, and graduation is only a month away.
So I stayed. Because when you’re a mom, that’s what you do. You put your husband and children first, even when it’s hard. It’s part of that whole “for better or for worse” thing.
Thankfully, I have the kind of family that understands that. Instead, Mom is actually flying here to help us out because I have my procedure this Wednesday.
I can’t wait to move back down South so I can be there for my family again.
Because there are things that fire cannot touch.
The fire took my wedding dress. It didn’t take my marriage.
The fire took my parents’ house. It didn’t take their lives, their identities, their love, their hope, their faith, nor their memories.
Through all the years of my childhood, only one photo of all five of us was ever made. After the fire, it was nothing more than a rectangular crunch of glass on the hallway floor. The fire took our photos, but it didn’t take who we are.
It took my parents’ earthly refuge, but it didn’t take their Heavenly one.
The things that fire cannot touch are the most important things of all:
-your relationship with God
The wedding dress was truly a small thing. It has significance to a woman that is hard to explain, but our marriage was always bigger than any wedding.
Things of this world: having a house in the right neighborhood, a car with heated seats (my dream!), blankets, computers, dishes, stemware…We grow attached to these things. We’re so attached to them that Alan and I pack them up every few years and haul them all over the country with us.
And for what? They are so quickly reduced to dust and hot ashes. It is all a brilliant reminder of a Bible verse we know..
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
It’s such an easy sentiment to use. It isn’t so easy when there are suddenly no records, no pictures of your people, no souvenirs of your past, no, not even so much as a laundry basket to count as your own. That’s a level of loss you have to experience to understand, I think.
But the most important things survived. My parents escaped this fire! Hallelujah! None of us kids or grandkids were there at the time, so no one died. Praise the Lord! We all still have each other, we have our sense of humor, and we have our faith.
What counts in the end? It’s all still there. So this situation reminds me of a different Bible verse. When everything is tried by fire, what will remain?
…12Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:12-13
Love remains. Love always remains. It is fire-proof. No fancy dress required.