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Opinion | Looking forward. It’s all there is

“We lost a lot of things. But they are things.”


Yeah, it’s all about me. We had a fire. You know that. You’ve responded with amazing support for Veronica and me. You’ve sent us gift cards, donated to the GoFundMe that our daughters set up. You’ve been praying for us. You’ve sent us letters of support and encouragement.

It means everything. We know we are not alone. We have a huge community around us, hugging us, inspiring us, keeping us sane.

It’s been a hard three weeks. We lost our cat, Smudge, in the fire. She died of smoke inhalation.

Then we lost Franklin, our big lug Lab-mix who just liked to sit in our lap, although our laps were way too small for him.

Then we lost Keller, our blind, black pug who knew her way around our bedroom.

Nellie Bly, our 3-year-old fawn pug, is in the hospital, with pneumonia, caused by the smoke she inhaled on the night of the fire. We are hoping she gets better. We’re hoping she can come home. We’re hoping she can come home to us.

We have rented a one-bedroom apartment. It’s a good space. We like it. We needed to downsize, and a fire forced us to.

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We lost a lot of things. But they are things. If we had gone to bed when we usually do, we would have lost our lives.

That we didn’t lose. We saved most of our pets. We saved ourselves. We continue today. We are safe. We are comfortable. We will rebound.

We are grieving the loss of our animals. We took these rescues in to rescue them. We ended up causing their deaths. It’s hard to comprehend. But we try to comprehend.

I see the turmoil in America. The separation of those who want a vaccine for the COVID and those who don’t. I see this, and it makes me weep. We just don’t appreciate the most important things about life. We hate each other. We are mean to each other. But we’re all here and we need to just stop it.

I’m about to eat a brinner. Breakfast for dinner. My wife, Veronica, is cooking it. I don’t cook. I just don’t. We’re in our apartment. It’s a nice space.

I know that others, far removed from us, but still in our neighborhood, have lost their homes to tornadoes and misery and awfulness. I know this, and it keeps me in perspective.

I know that others lost their lives. They died. We didn’t, and we’re so thankful for that.

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But what we have lost can be replaced. Not Frankie. Not Keller. Not Smudge. They cannot be replaced. But “things” can be replaced. Or renewed. Or salvaged.

They are just things. Our fire was hot. It destroyed windows. It killed our pets. I grieve. But I’m also looking forward. Toward the sunset. Toward tomorrow. Toward grace. And peace. Toward the sunrise.

I’m looking forward.

Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column each week for the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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