Irreplaceable Things…

Sometimes in the middle of an ordinarily beautiful summer night, below a nearly full moon and among crickets singing their song into the darkness the world takes a moment to remind you that you are not in control.

We were reminded of this in the early morning hours of an ordinary Tuesday as we stood on the edge of the barnyard and watched our neighbors work to control the flames that were threatening to destroy a house that has been a fixture of memories on this landscape for well over 50 years.

As the smoke rolled from the walls and out the windows I kneeled among the things I was able to grab while we still had time–my guitar, my books of writing, my camera and photographs chronicling years of blessed living, pieces of me I could not bear to  see dissolve in the heat of a disaster we were powerless to stop–and I knew this was that last night I would spend under that roof.

We weren’t ready to let go. We had plans for this house, plans that I have shared here to ensure many more years of popsicles on the front porch, canning wild berries in the tiny kitchen,  waking to the sound of horses grazing in the pasture below us, windows open to the prairie breeze and watching the sunrise from the window above the kitchen sink.

But we’ve been reminded, once again, that nothing’s forever. That house where my father was raised, where my grandmother lived and died, where I put on Christmas performances with my cousins, fell in love, grew up and sighed a breath of relief when my new husband carried me over its threshold, held us close and reminded me that I can come home again.

That no matter how lost I might be, I can be found, out here among the wild grasses, red barn and sweet smell of horse hair.

And so I have been found. And thanks to the quick response of the rural volunteer fire department–our neighbors, local bankers, truck drivers, farmers and ranchers that transformed into heroes in the night–we did not have to watch that house burn to the ground. We were able to walk through its doors once again and bury our noses in the smoke-laced fabric of our world and make decisions on what to keep– our favorite sweater, our dining room table, a forgotten photograph–and most importantly, what to let go.

 We are thankful for that.

And thankful for our community of friends and family who helped us sort through the rubble, made us dinner, poured us a strong drink, encouraged us to salvage the irreplaceable things (like the rocking horse that has been in our family for as long as that house has stood ) and told us everything was going to be alright…told us they’d be right over to help with paint the new house, put in the floors and get us ready to move in.

We are blessed. Unbelievably blessed.

So today I am thankful to kick through the rubble, to sort my clothes on the lawn, to make plans with my husband, take a trip to the lumberyard with my pops, curl up on my momma’s couch rest easy knowing that we can never lose everything.

Because we are worry and love, community and friends, sentiment and replaceable things.

We are us, we are exhausted and summer’s only so long.

We have a life to build out here.

We’re moving on.

I will leave the light on
Meanwhile, back at the ranch
August 17, 2011 

To come down from the buttes after staying out a little too far past sundown only to see the lights of the barnyard illuminating the grass and the kitchen of the house glowing warmly through the windows, waiting for my return…

it means more to me than I can describe here.

I imagine the same sight greeting my grandparents, my aunt and uncle and my father. I imagine them feeling the same deep breath, the same overwhelming calm as they drove in from the fields, rode up to unsaddle a horse or strip off the layers from a hunt in the hills in the still of a late summer or autumn evening.

I imagine the smell of baked bread reaching them from the open windows or the smoke from a grilled steak waiting for them to sit down around the table, the door swinging open and the warmth of this old house whispering “this is home this is home this is home this is home…”

No matter how far you find yourself.

No matter the distance between you and these buttes.

No matter the time that has passed, the mistakes that you’ve made, the words you can’t take back, the pain you might hold onto, the life you might have found down the road or the love you might have lost here…

No matter.

Don’t worry.

This is home…

And I will leave the light on.

25 thoughts on “Irreplaceable Things…

  1. I am so very sorry for this loss, and thankful you and your family are ok. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Oh, I’m so sorry. I know the feeling you have for a home, and it leaves an empty space in your heart when it’s gone. Sending my thoughts.

  3. Sending you my thoughts and prayers…I know what you are feeling for your forever home…I am living in the house my great grandmother used to live a 100 years ago on our ranch….and I grew up in this house as my parents lived here after my great grandmother. My entire life and heritage is here on the ranch and the blessing of this house…to some it is just four walls…to me it is my heart. We often have fires around where we live due to the vast area of family ranches and wheat farms…we always worry during wheat harvest as it is easy to catch wheat on fire and the days are so hot which makes the equipment hot….my heart goes out to you Jesse and to your family.

  4. Thank God you all are safe. We love you and know how sentimental you can be. We all wish we could hold you right now.

  5. I’m so sorry you all had to go through this, but thank goodness no one was hurt. Take good care and hold onto each other as you go through this challenge. I hope the message I got from your words is one you intended – that memories nourish and strengthen us so that we can survive change, which is truly the only constant in life.

  6. My heart aches for you all. Jessie, you touch all of us with your written words. I feel like I know you as a close friend as my eyes well with tears. Thank God you are all safe. Stay strong – our prayers are with you at this difficult time. And . . . You are irreplaceable!

  7. I’m so sorry for such a heart-breaking loss, but I’m happy to hear you’re safe and were able to salvage some irreplaceable items…All my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family – it is truly a blessing to be able to count on family and friends through moments like these.

  8. So sorry for your loss and will be keeping all of you in my prayers. Your words and pictures were beautiful, as always, even when written with a crying heart. So glad you are all safe and know you will find strength in this awful turn of events. May the wind now be at your back in the days ahead.

  9. Soooo Sorry Jessie. At times like this Its hard to imagine that everything happens for a reason…. but I do believe that to be true. I am so glad that you are all safe. Take Care I will be thinking warm thoughts and sending them your way. 🙂

  10. Lovely writing, but this time a little sad, and yet thankful. So sorry to hear of your loss. I am Stacey’s (Tony’s wife) Mom. I hope you can repair, renew, and rejuvenate after this loss. God Bless.

  11. I’ve been thinking of you since you posted and as everyone is, I’m so sorry for you losing your house and even though I don’t know you (although I feel as if I know you from your blog), I send a virtual hug and visualize that forever light that will stay on in my heart from reading this.

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  13. I’m so sorry for your loss but thankful that you all are physically okay and that the house was able to be saved, for the most part. I know first-hand how destructive fire can be as a few yrs ago, we fought a blaze on my dad’s ranch that threatened every structure on the place. Luckily no buildings or animals were lost. During the fight its pure adrenaline but seeing the destruction through the early morning sunshine is heart-breaking. Hang onto everything you can including the memories of that night which now have become part of your wonderful families’ history.

  14. Wow. What a remarkable spirit of gratitude and fortitude you have! So sorry for your loss. Carry on – with such determination for optimism and hope you are sure to find life’s blessings. Best wishes as you look towards the next steps.

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