It’s funny how sometimes a potentially catastrophic event provides so much clarity about what’s important in life.
Over the past few days we, the Sunshine Coast community, a community north of Brisbane, Queensland's capital city, have watched helplessly as fires have ravaged our magnificent coastline. Most of Australia knows what the firefighters around the Sunshine Coast have been dealing with. Sleepless nights, endless days and a fire, which seems a law unto itself. 115 fire crews and trucks and hundreds if not thousands of volunteers have been working all through the day and night to protect our homes and us. People whom they have never met - most strangers, are the ones whom they will put their life on the line for. Every minute of every hour of every day until the fire is contained. ‘Hero’ does not seem fitting enough for these men and women.
My parents live close to the flames. Close enough that my mother has received a text telling her to prepare to evacuate. Like so many other friends up here, she may have to leave her home with only the clothes on her back and what she can fit in her small car. It’s scary and it’s real. But here’s the thing. When she rang me and I told her I would come over to help her pack I asked her what she was taking. She told me she was getting as many photo albums as she could find and, with her voice breaking, she asked if I could help retrieve her mother’s wedding picture and my father’s degree’s which were too high for her on the walls to reach.
As I hung up I thought about the possessions she would leave behind. The jewellery, although not significant, the clothes, the paintings, the furniture. Things which have taken her and my dad a lifetime to accumulate. What she chose to take was of no monetary value. A few photo albums and some papers in a frame. But what she chose was what was most important to her. It held the most value.
I began to think of what I would take if the time came that we too had to evacuate. We were close as well, not close enough to warrant too much concern but with winds picking up, no one had any idea as to how far the fires would reach. I thought about what I would take if we had to flee. I’d pack our passports and my computer, for no other reason than it holds thousands of photos on it. Photos that if lost will never be replaced. Memories of treasured times. Pictures of my children, my family, my friends. The few designer handbags didn’t warrant a thought, nor did the jewellery. The clothes that have cost so much - not a second thought. All replaceable. None important. Like so many people who recount that in their darkest hours or the final breaths of a loved one what mattered most was the people who are around them. Not the houses, the cars, nor the money in the bank.
When push comes to shove and we have to choose, the people and the memories are what matters most. Stuff is simply that. And let’s be clear - it’s all just stuff.
Clare Sultmann is a wife, mother of 3 and the founder of Dear Molly. As a survivor of a catastrophic accident, former barrister at law, published author, and nationally accredited mediator Clare has returned to work in a different capacity. Relocating to Noosa shortly after the birth of her first child, Clare found it difficult to make meaningful and real connections with other like-minded women away from her own network of friends. With this in mind, Clare’s idea was born. Dear Molly aims to provide connections for like-minded women in a real, meaningful and positive manner. It a platform to share, communicate and inspire other women about their ‘real’ life.