That's what it comes down to in the end: pictures and family videos.

Chris drove 13 hours each way last week to retrieve our documents and most prized possessions. We're nearing the end of this Colorado chapter of our lives, ready to turn the page and begin again.

Since our home did not burn down, our possessions are still in our home. Beloved books, guitars, drums, journals, baby boxes, Christmas ornaments.

The medical crisis of recovery has helped distract us from the reality of lost items.

We held a family meeting. We no longer need to explain why we can't bring our things with us. The medical benefits of leaving our possessions are evident. We all agreed. Save the scrapbooks. Maybe we can scan the pages one day, with a mask, outside. The kids asked for one other thing--family videos.

Books would be next on the list. We each had our treasures. My mom's poetry book from high school. Reagan's Pendragon series. Megan's first edition Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Chris' Pat Conroy books signed by the author. Books aren't an option with stachybotrys. Books are some of the most porous things on Earth. We can't tolerate a library book, let alone a book from our old home.

Chris was the perfect one for the mission. Part of me wanted to see the home one last time, stand in the hallway, look at the pictures on the walls, feel all the memories of laughter, babies learning to walk, and birthday parties. I knew there would be haunting memories as well. Emergency Room trips, seizures, rashes, tempers, anxiety, confusion.

Here's how he described his venture into the house (wearing his chemical splash suit and mask):

It was cold and quiet in the house, but I was struck by how much life was still there, even though there was no sign of humanity. In the past I've been overcome by the sense of loss of our pets and all that we had done to make that house a home. This time I felt a sense of ache for the children. Their beds made or unmade, their dressers filled with clothes they'll never wear again, closets with DVDs of favorite movies they'll never see. Ryan's room was particularly hard to walk through. He had so many drums and posters on the wall of New York, his dream. Diaries left untouched where they lay.

I spent 3 hours gathering baby books and video tapes and car titles and social security cards and double bagging them outside in the heavy plastic bags contractors use. I stuffed them in Rubbermaid boxes and taped it all up.

The Rubbermaid boxes traveled with Chris back to our new life in Arizona. They sit quietly in the corner of the garage. It's nice to have them with us even if we can't look at them.

We'll see those scrapbook pages one day. Even if they're scanned. I have confidence.

Better yet, one day we'll see something bigger and better than those pages. I have faith.

For I know there's a bigger picture to our story. It's a picture that goes beyond our family, our home, and our health.

The best news? It can't be destroyed or tainted. By rust or moth. Or even toxic mold.

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