It’s a hypothetical question we’ve all probably asked ourselves at least once: “If I had to evacuate from my home today, what would I take with me?” 

If you’re anything like me and my husband, it’s always been a (mostly) simple answer: the kids, the dogs, important paperwork, and a few sentimental belongings that are already boxed up in an a quick-grab location are the only must-haves on our list.

We’re not “things” people. Sure, we have things, but most of our “stuff” is just that to us— we’re not emotionally attached it and there’s not much that we have ever deemed super important or irreplaceable in the grand scheme of things. So, imagine my surprise when we were faced with the task of leaving our home this week and I suddenly looked around the house and wanted to take every. Single. Thing. 

With the Spring Creek fire blazing wildly out of control in southern Colorado, and an erratic course for its path, we were placed under pre-evacuation, and then evacuation, and all of the hypothetical answers of our past swarmed around us like one big dizzying ball of heartbreak.

Here’s the thing: you think “stuff” is just stuff, until you start to realize all of the memories attached to it. 

That extra tricycle that just last week I was complaining took up half of the closet and threatening to donate? Suddenly I had flashbacks of dozens of rides and big, toothy grins from the wide-eyed toddlers who frequent its seat. 

Those tiny clothes that act as our family’s very own Mt. Everest—the ones that I wash, fold, and put away on a never-ending cycle that threatens my sanity on most days? Instantly, I couldn’t unsee the popsicle stain that was a reminder of a family day well spent on our back deck, or the way that the color of that one shirt brought out the blue of our oldest son’s eyes and did the same for our youngest after that. 

And the house? 

Right smack dab in the middle of the four walls my husband and I have been scheming to put up on the market, I suddenly realized my home. I saw a floor that has been the stage for first steps, family dance parties, and a toddler’s midnight treks seeking the comfort of his parents. In the kitchen with the cabinets that aren’t really my style, I recognized the backdrop to many-a toddler baking lesson; to sprinkles on the floor, icing on noses, and little hands reaching up to grab just one more sugar cookie as Mama pretended not to notice. 

So what’s a family to do? What are they to grab, to snap photos of, to hesitantly leave—when they close that front door behind them, not knowing if it will be standing to reenter when they return?

They grab the things on that hypothetical list of long ago: the kids, the dogs, important paperwork, and a few sentimental belongings that are already boxed up and stored in a quick-grab location.

They shut the door on all of the “stuff” that has so many memories attached.

And then they leave, and pray, like so many others who have walked the same motions before them that they have a home to return to when the madness passes.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the journey of a young wife and mom; the good, the bad, and always the real. When she's not writing, Casey is likely to be yelling COME DOWN FROM THERE! or DON'T LICK YOUR BROTHER!, and procrastinating on the housework.  To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward