I awaken to a shrill alarm. Smoke is filling the room. My eyes sting, my lungs sear. Frantic, I reach for my husband, but he is already rolling out of bed and pulling me with him. We crouch low, trying to get under the burning strata billowing above us. I hear him say the one thought that’s racing through my mind: “The kids!”
They’re already in the hallway when we burst out of our room. We hear the fire crackling below us and our beloved dogs howling. I try to cover my kids’ faces as we sprint to the door. My husband races to release the dogs. I send a prayer up to God that the three of them will join us in the driveway. When we all unite—me, my children, my husband and my dogs—I am relieved for only a moment. Then I turn and survey all I am losing. I can’t even hear the sirens yet; we stand to lose everything. The fire isn’t that bad yet. Do I have time to go back in for anything? One thing? What one thing would I grab?
I’m blessed to never have had a fire at my house. I know people who have. People who have lost everything. They all say they are grateful to have gotten out safely, so they don’t care about the possessions. I get that. If my house was burning down, I would first and foremost make certain my husband, children and dogs were safe. As long as they are healthy and happy, I’m happy. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t miss some material things if I lost them. I’d think about all my wedding things: my gown, my champagne glasses, my photos and video. But that stuff is all spread out and not really worth anything to anyone but me. My next thought would be for my family photos and videos, and although my kids would love to have them, there would be no way to grab all of those in time. More likely than not I’d be wearing my engagement ring and family ring (and I’ve never taken my wedding band off), so I don’t have to worry about grabbing any jewelry that matters to me. So what one item would I take with me on my way out the door? What would I foolishly consider running back in for?
My family Bible.
I’m not going for the obvious answer here, although I wouldn’t want to live without God’s Word. For several years I read the Bible every day. There are religious books and artwork throughout my home, and my religion is a strong presence in my life. No, it’s not just any Bible that I would grab (I have several in my home). It’s one particular one. The family Bible is the object I treasure most.
See, when I was growing up, my grandfather was my hero. He immigrated from Italy when he was a young boy and had to drop out of school at fourteen when his father died to support his mother and siblings. Despite his lack of education, he was the smartest man I knew and in spite of all his hardships, he made more out of his life than most people do. Everyone loved him. I lost him when I was far too young, and I didn’t have much to remember him by.
Years later, my grandmother gave me a family Bible. Not only is it more exquisitely illustrated than any Bible I can find on the market today, it has sections in it that you can’t find in other Bibles, like indices and maps. It’s beautiful. It’s leather bound with gold-edged pages. The words inside are a treasure to the world. The craftsmanship is a treasure to anyone who appreciates fine art. Then Gramma told me it was my grandfather’s Bible. It was the kind he sold when he first started working to support his family, and it was the first one he owned. He owned it when he was the head of his father’s family, then he brought it to his own home when he was the head of his family. She had kept it all those years, and she was gifting it to me.
If I had to name one treasured item that I own, I’m naming that Bible. The words in it soothe me when I need comforting, the artwork is breathtaking, and it’s one of the only things I have to remind me of my grandfather and his sacrifices for his family. No, I wouldn’t risk sacrificing my life running into a burning building to retrieve this book, but I hope I never have to part with it. Losing it would be losing the one of the last tangible memories of my grandfather that I have left.
written for WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge