The Value of Things

“They’re just things. We’re all okay. Things can be replaced, people can’t. I’m just grateful everyone is alive.”

How many times after a fire, tornado or hurricane have we heard those brave words, sincerely spoken in the moment? Yet we know, sitting in our chairs in the comfort of our safe and secure homes, that sooner or later the woman on the screen will realize some things can’t be replaced.

The stone your daughter brought you because she thought it was so pretty and would bring you good luck. The books you’ve had since childhood, worn a bit, but beautiful. The Christmas decorations your mother and your children made.

The pictures, taken before digital cameras and cloud storage.

Yes, any of us would rather have our children, spouses, siblings, parents, friends and neighbors alive and hugging us close than a household of “things”…but the loss of the material is real, and eventually will hit the people struggling to find a change of clothing and water the day after their home is destroyed.

We say “you can’t take it with you” and as true as that is, you have it here on earth. While often that expression refers to money, here I’m talking about things, objects, what you know is in your house and makes it home for you. You treasure it, at times it sustains you. There’s nothing wrong with valuing those things.

A tragic loss does put all that in perspective, of course, and you can always find new objects to hold close to your heart. But they can’t fully replace what’s been lost.

To those who’ve lost everything, my heart is with you. I know your loss is real. I pray you have the support in your life to get through whatever has brought this loss into your life, all that it represents, and that you will soon find joy again.


Photo Credit : © marima-design – Fotolia

Everyday Value

My neighbor died today. Her granddaughter found her on the floor at home, apparently dead of a heart attack.

Her little dog was frantic, as you might imagine, and the granddaughter is taking the pup home for now. She told me she hopes one of her cousins will take him in as she’s due any day with her first child and doesn’t need the additional burden.

maple branch rev c milavas sm shadowThis lady was nice, with a wry sense of humor and countless grandchildren who took advantage of her. The police were at the apartment keeping them out; they all insisted they had things they owned in that apartment, and likely some did, but at this point under the law it all belongs to her and her estate.

I suppose the police would need to wait for the locks to be changed, because you can bet those kids all had keys. This wasn’t an entirely bad group, but one or two were pretty awful. One young man came to my door early on asking for the passcode to my wireless account. When I refused to give it to him, he broke into my apartment and got it off of the wireless box. Of course I changed the passcode and now he’s in jail for breaking & entering as well as felony theft. In my state, you serve time for theft of services.

Now, mine wasn’t the only apartment he broke into; I didn’t report the crime until the police came to me. And I shouldn’t say he broke in, although legally it was B&E. I’d left the door unlocked when I went to get my mail and he ran in then. Creepy. I lock the door now even when I take the garbage out.

But I don’t hold it against my late neighbor. I liked her. She did her best and I know she was struggling financially, or she wouldn’t have been living in these apartments. She didn’t own a car, in fact, she maybe didn’t even drive. She was disabled and couldn’t walk in a straight line very well because of the way her body was twisted. I’m not sure her vision was very good, either.

It’s funny the impact virtual strangers have on your life. I don’t know this lady’s name and I never had much of a conversation with her, but I appreciated her as a neighbor. She was kind and courteous. She loved her grandchildren, and despite what I’ve said so far I’m sure most of them are good people, young, perhaps, and a little thoughtless, but they will miss her. The granddaughter I saw today certainly seemed genuinely upset.

Smileys c Stuart Miles - Fotolia

We wonder about the impact we have on others’ lives, and it can be as simple as being a good neighbor. Earlier this week I was walking into the grocery store and smiled at a woman approaching from a different direction. She smiled back, a genuine, friendly smile that made feel good. I’d been having a difficult day. It made a difference.

“Thank you for smiling!” I told her.

“And thank you for smiling, too!” she said back cheerily. I felt good the rest of the day. That woman is important to me in that small way.

If ever you are feeling unimportant, if ever you wonder your value in life, it is there. It is in the small things and the grand, for life is made of all those things.

But mostly the everyday things.

Image Credits: (Leaves) © milavas — Fotolia; (Smileys) © Stuart Miles — Fotolia