Recently, I have been thinking back on my relationship with the hubs, Tom. This is due to the fact that our 3rd anniversary is coming up next month. But instead of thinking of our wedding day, when we got engaged, or any of the “big” stuff, I’ve been thinking of the little things.
When we were freshman in college, Tom’s dorm caught on fire because some girl on his floor left either her curling iron or her hair dryer on her mattress. I will never forget him calling me to tell me that he came out of class to find flames and smoke bursting forth from the windows on his floor of the dorm.
Because the dorm was so old, it had been built back when asbestos was permitted in walls. And since it was burning the walls up, no students were allowed back in that floor of the dorm. Everything that was in their rooms was to be considered a loss, and it could all be filed with the renter’s insurance companies.
Now, if you know Tom at all, you know that he is not about to walk out on his computer. All of his hard work was on that hard drive, and he wasn’t about to let it sit, virtually unharmed, until they threw it out.
So, that weekend, Tom, some other guys who lived on his hall, Ben (Tom’s brother) and I all snuck into the dorm, slipped under the caution tape, and, while crouching down under the windows, we ran to their rooms with t-shirts pulled up enough to cover our noses and mouths.
There was soot on everything. (Are you even surprised that I had a camera with me?)
And that included Tom’s desk.
It was awful. These students lost all of their clothes, their mementos from home, all electronics, their books, their notes, and their work.
So the fact that Tom was willing to risk getting in major trouble (not to mention lung cancer) in order to save the work on his hard drive isn’t surprising.
But that’s not what really sticks out in my mind about that night. What really made an impression is the OTHER stuff Tom insisted on taking with him.
Without saying anything to draw attention to it, he took a picture of me that was on his desk (a part not shown above) out of the frame, and he left the empty frame behind. And he took a little stuffed monkey I had given him months before.
And that was it.
And I never forgot it. I remember just being so surprised that he considered that worth taking. He left the outer shell of his computer, so no one cleaning out the dorms would really know he’d been in there. But an empty frame was more of a tell. And he did it anyway.
It’s one of my favorite memories of visiting him at school during our first year of college. Because even though it was really stressful and sad for him to lose everything, what I came away with was that I mattered more to him than pretty much anything that he had to his name.
Sometimes the little things turn out to be the big things, after all.