What would I have done differently?
By Dick Duerksen

Thoughts from the Camp Fire in Paradise, California

It’s not a comfortable question. Maybe that’s why I asked it. The answers usually came following a thoughtful pause, a moment where I could almost hear the roar of the fire, the sounds of shrill voices calling out in fear, and the click of cell phones searching for tower power.

"I would have picked up my flight bag and brought it along. I am so sad I didn’t think of it. Picking it up would have cost me about three seconds as I ran out the door, but it never crossed my mind. It not just a flight bag filled with maps. No, it’s got all my log books in it. And those aren’t just normal log books saying I flew here or there on such-and-such day. No, they’re my personal diaries describing some of the most important days of my life. They talked about people I met, family members who flew with me, pets I carried in the plane, and long paragraphs about how I felt. I wish I had picked up my flight bag. It’s the story of my life.”

The rain was washing rivers of water across the windshield when I asked Delinda what she might have done differently. She was ready for the question and had obviously cried this one through.

“I would have brought my Bible with me. I cannot believe I didn’t grab it from beside my bed. It’s always with me, but that morning I left it right there and grabbed something else. I can’t believe I left my Bible beside the bed. It’s all marked up, red and blue lines underlining special texts. Lots of notes in the margins, ideas from sermons I heard and other books I’d read. It was like a library of love, and it’s gone! Yes, I know there are other Bibles, and I know they all say the same things. But none of them have my notes - my lifetime of notes – inside the covers.”

Her voice went quiet and she looked very thoughtful for a few moments, then spoke again.

“You know, several friends have given me new Bibles, and I really appreciate them for that. But when I look at them, they’re nice, but none of them are the right one. When I open them they feel empty. There’s no writing in the texts. My life was inside that Bible - and it’s missing.”