The wildfires in Alberta, Canada have caused the residents of Fort McMurray to evacuate. A city of over 80,000 people was scheduled to evacuate, and as predicted, caused a large number of cars stuck in traffic on the roads out of the area. People were crying in their cars are flames surrounded the roadways, and many resorted to driving on the wrong side of the road to just get out.
The thick smoke is almost as hazardous as the flames, and people driving recklessly are more of a danger than the fires due to the fact that emergency services aren’t able to reach anyone and help. The gas stations have been sucked dry and people aren’t sure of what the future holds.
One father took to Facebook in the midst of the chaos, and his words have touched thousands of people everywhere.
I am laying here in the dark on the floor of a camp room.
My family was fortunate enough to get a room but I know not everyone was as lucky. Right now I am so jealous of my children because they have no fears, no sense of loss about everything. It’s actually calming for me to reassure my daughter that her toys don’t matter, and that the few personal items we got out are more than we need.
It’s funny because as I stare in the dark I keep telling myself that the words running through my head aren’t true. The words “it’s all gone” won’t pass. But I keep reminding myself of what I know to be true more than ever. I have everything in this room with me. When I was leaving our home I looked all around and tried to decide what was important enough to take and the answer was nothing. Nothing mattered except my family. It still doesn’t. And I feel so grateful because when I tried to leave town south bound I was delegates from my wife and my daughter Olivia, and I had my daughter Emma with me. I got to a point where I couldn’t go further and the highway was covered in flames and I didn’t think we would make it out. I looked at my angel and I have never felt such a fear. Such dread thinking I wouldn’t be able to save what I hold dear. That’s what I can’t shake. What I can’t let go. And while I trembled and shook; my little girl in all her innocence smiled at me and was laughing and wanted to play.
I’m writing this for two reasons. One because I need to let some of this out of my head, and two because I hope it will make everyone squeeze your kids a little tighter this week. Read them an extra bed time story. Give them an ice cream and watch them smile. Call your sister you are angry at and make up, or your brother you haven’t had time to chat with in a while and say hi. Tell your loved ones they are loved and make time for a family dinner. Everything else is bullshit. It does not matter.
McMurray has given me everything. My wife. My children. My career. My friends. My greatest memories and milestones. And tonight as I write I still have all those things.
As I left town tonight I saw emergency workers still working. Risking their lives to get us all out. Police. Paramedics. Firefighters. I saw camp workers going up to the desk of their camp trying to hand in their keys so families could have a place to stay. People smiling and people in tears, and children running and laughing. It gives me hope that people are better than we think. More caring and selfless. Kind and compassionate. We are young and love our home. We have built it together as it has built us and our families.”
Even in the midst of chaos and despair, he finds hope. He has realized that family is what matters the most. Having the people in your life who know you the best and have been with you through the worst could get anyone though almost anything. They may have lost it all, but they still have each other. And that is what matters the most.