preparing for what you don’t know…

About a decade ago I packed this duffel bag.  My 72-hour kit.  I was attending a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) class, and had to bring it in on the last day.  It was so big, so heavy that I dragged it in.  Just as I tend to over think things, I typically over prepare.  Everything.  My kit could have taken care of three people.  For a week.  I always pack with sharing in mind.  And options.  I like options.

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Over the years I have robbed this kit mercilessly.  The candy went first.  Then the protein bars and nuts.  Then the bottled water.  One day, behind in doing my laundry, I took out the change of clothes and decided I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing any of it.  Always meant to replace them.  Never did.  The spare pair of glasses is from three prescription changes ago.

In the beginning my kit had a cute, collapsible kitchen sink.  I took it out to play around with, but couldn’t fold it back into it’s little pouch.  Then I lost it.  I even had facial moisturizer packed.  But over the last few days I’ve rethought the necessity of such a thing.  In a crunch, would I rather have water or moisturizer?  Food or moisturizer?  Toilet paper or moisturizer?

I am particularly happy to see the two, flattened rolls of toilet paper still inside.  That, I believe, answers my question.

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In view of the panic which has overtaken the general public, it’s time to resupply this bag.  Maybe get a smaller bag.  One I can carry.  It doesn’t need to hold a kitchen sink, but it does need the basics to get me through a few days.  A little advance planning can keep a person’s mind at ease – – a message I hope more people will take to heart.

In the last few years of my mom’s life, she became fearful of many things.  Maybe she’d always been that way and I hadn’t noticed.  But every few days there would be a new concern that lead her to a dire conclusion.  I would try to reassure, but it only made her angry that I didn’t agree with her.  I’m glad she hasn’t been here to watch the news.

I met a lady at the store Thursday evening who reminded me of Mom’s fearfulness.  As Doug and I entered the store we found a small display of toilet paper near the entryway.  I put one pack in our cart.  When we got to the check out, this woman had eight packages of toilet paper in her cart.  She  looked embarrassed, started rambling and nervous laughing about how crazy it all is and everyone is buying everything so she decided to buy everything too…

It’s not my best trait, but now and then I can be a little judge-y-ish.  I’m thinking, “well lady, if everyone is buying everything, you’re just adding to the problem!”.  I didn’t say it  though.  And honestly, for a moment, I got this scared feeling that I ought to run back and get 2 or 3 or 10 more packages myself.  But I didn’t do that either.  The more she talked, I could see she was truly afraid.  I have no right to judge her.

Mom’s been gone a whole month now.  On the morning she died I got up early as always.  Coffee, bible and journal in the same comfortable spot.  I glanced out the second story window regularly because I love to watch the sky change as the sun rises.  During that time especially, I feel like I hear God.  Not right-out-loud words, but impressions like “these words you’re reading…they’re for you today, Brooke, you’ll need this”… or, “this sunrise, it’s artwork, don’t miss it”.

That same morning a call came in from our deployed son.  Talking over Portal and seeing his face, still feels like a miracle to me.  I was anxious to share the news of his call with Mom.

But later, when I checked on her, she was already gone.  There would be no more newsy conversations.

These last four weeks have felt like slogging thru deep snow.  This big house is really quiet with just two of us.  I keep listening for Mom’s TV and rushing downstairs Sunday mornings to organize her pills for the week.  But she doesn’t need pills anymore.

While I come to terms with loss and what comes next for Doug and I, we’ve been bombarded with the predictable ugly politics, the virus, plummeting stock market, empty store shelves, closed businesses… and in all of it… how exactly does a stockpile of toilet paper save anyone?

I’ve held on to the soft blue sky and my son’s call from that morning one month ago.  They feel like warm hugs from God.  He was reassuring me of His love and presence before I even knew I needed it.  When I stepped outside to take in the sky, God already knew my mom was with Him.  He already knew the loss I would soon feel, and He knows everything that is happening today.

People believe in many things.  Some believe in nothing at all.  I will stick with the One who has proven His character and steadfast love over and over and over again every day of my life.

And given human nature, my own and everyone else on the planet, it can’t hurt to have that 72-hour kit ready.  With moisturizer if it fits.

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