~ Shelves packed with books lining the walls (some that have been rifled through by three generations of grubby little kid hands).

~ Love letters carefully saved from great, great, great grandparents.

~ Yearbooks with notes written by friends from decades ago.

~ Albums full of baby photos of 7+ kids. Crayon drawings, paintings, and lumpy little ceramic projects that made us cringe as adults.

~ Handmade masks and art and home wares from living in Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Micronesia.

~ My mother’s wedding dress framed on her bedroom wall.

~ A garden lovingly tended to every weekend by my dad when he was home.

~ A tiny denim jacket fit for a precocious little girl decorated with pins and patches from her uncle.

~ A little boy’s AC/DC poster, AC/DC t-shirt, and electric guitar, and another boy’s new laptop with the games he’d learned to code himself.

~ Pictures of my dad from when he awkwardly modeled suits in Japan.

~ My grandfather’s letters to his mother from the orphanage where he lived during the depression.

~ Our baby teeth and hair clippings from our first haircuts that my mother kept in little envelopes and carried with her overseas so many times.

~ Not everything in a home is “just stuff,” and it will take a while to process everything that was lost.

     My family’s home in Paradise was confirmed to be destroyed. But everyone is here, and we’re together, and we’re making new memories and gathering new mementos.
Story written by Anjie Cook