Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
- Community Blog
- Postcards From the Purple Buddha
Hope After Tragedy In R.B.
One night in October 2007, my husband and I were asleep when we got a call from the reverse 911 operator. The voice on the recording said that there was a wildfire in the Westwood Neighborhood and we had ten minutes to evacuate. Scrambling to our feet, we grabbed the things that couldn't be replaced and piled them into the car.
Then we went back to the house for our clothes. When I opened my dresser drawer, I found the small jeweler's box containing my wedding ring. I'd taken it off earlier that day so it wouldn't get messy while I did some painting. Relieved that I hadn't forgotten it, I put the box on a ledge by the front door. I planned to pick it up on my way out and then went back to my bedroom for some other things.
On our way to our daughter's house in Riverside, I remembered that in my haste to leave I'd forgotten all about the box that held my wedding ring. I then received a call from the alarm company. The heat detector inside our house had just gone off. I broke down in tears, figuring the thing that means the most to me--my wedding ring--was gone forever.
I stewed over my loss until finally I couldn't take it anymore. I decided to put the whole matter in God's hands. If it were His will for me to have the ring, then I would have it again.
When we got to our daughter's house, we turned on a newscast to see if we could find out anything about our neighborhood. We were shocked and devastated as we watched an aerial view of the house we'd lived in for nineteen years go up in flames. After three days, we were allowed back onto the property. There was nothing left, not even one piece of furniture. I couldn't even see where the couches had been.
Several church groups came to our area to aid in our recovery. The Mormons brought shovels, gloves, and masks from Utah because stores in San Diego were running out of them. Another group brought sifters made out of screens. They had used the devices to help victims of Hurricane Katrina recover some of their property.
They worked diligently for days, sifting through piles of ash. At the end of the search, the man in charge presented me with my meat thermometer, a rosary, and something I never thought I'd see again. The jeweler's box containing my wedding ring!
The ring symbolized hope for us that all was not lost. We were joyful and happy. After the local jeweler cleaned up the ring, it was as good as new. It became an ever-present reminder that God really can work miracles in our lives.
As told by P.S.