It's Only Stuff
December 14, 2007
Working on flood relief this past week has turned my thoughts to a lot of things I don't normally consider. I've been thinking about the security of my photos and documents, about the plethora of STUFF that's junking up my house, about the kindness of strangers, about how much I love my family, about cows, and about comfort objects, to name a few.
I've been working to help gather donations for flood victims in western Washington and distribute them directly to people in need. Most of the money will be given in the form of home improvement and department store gift cards to help with the practical work of rebuilding and outfitting homes, but I also have the flexibility to focus on some smaller needs in a way that FEMA or the Red Cross can't.
A couple of days ago I got an email from a woman who knows two little boys that were devastated to throw away their Build-A-Bears after they were destroyed by the contaminated flood water. She wondered if it were too insignificant to request that some funds be allocated to replace stuffed animals for these boys who had lost everything.
I think there's nothing more significant than returning some comfort to children who've had to face that kind of devastation to their home life and stability. One of my first thoughts when walking through the destruction from last week's flood was that I would not want my kids to see our home if it were in that state. A two and a four-year-old are too young to have an image of their mutilated home burned into their minds. I would tell them that our house got a little water in it and we couldn't go back there right now. I would hug and love them and in a year or so when the house was restored to a semi-normal state, I would take them back.
And if their blankies were lost in the disaster, you bet I'd have my mom searching every fabric store in the known world looking for flannel with ducks and pink and purple rosebuds.
One of the flood victims we met was tossing damaged items with abandon, her mantra being, "It's only stuff. You can replace stuff. It's only stuff." It helped her do what needed to be done with some level of emotional detachment but the problem is that sometimes stuff is more than just stuff, especially to a child. Sometimes stuff is security. Sometimes stuff is home.