Sometimes when the good in a situation is nowhere in sight, the best place to find comfort is in realizing that things could be much worse. Three weeks ago, after experiencing a shocking and fearful event, I felt grateful that the situation hadn’t been worse than it was.
I arrived home from work, pulled my car into the garage, and opened the door into the house to see two of my dogs coming in from outside. As usual they greeted me with lots of excitement, jumping and vying for my attention. They followed me into the living room where I was about to set my bag down, but I paused. Something wasn’t right.
The front door was open. I stared at it, my mind processing what I was seeing. How could that be possible? Did I leave it open before I left for work? Did my hubs leave it open? Then I saw the splintered door frame and the deadbolt still locked in place, the mechanism jutting out, connecting to nothing. Someone had kicked in my front door.
My heart began to pound in my chest. Adrenaline rushed through my body, and I felt tingly and flushed. I looked down and saw that my third dog had wandered out of a bedroom and was staring at me with her big eyes, longing for attention. The realization that all of my dogs were safe calmed some of the chaos in my head. I took a deep breath and told myself to take action.
I called my husband, my hands shaking as I began looking through the house to take stock of the damage. “Are the computers still there?” he asked. Panic hit me. Please tell me my laptop is still here. All my writings, my personal documents, my photos… Both computers were resting undisturbed on our desks.
“What about the gun?” A feeling of dread overwhelmed me as I ran to our bedroom. We have a pistol for home protection. What if they took the gun? What if they used the gun to hurt or kill someone? How would we handle this? I yanked open the drawer to the nightstand. The gun was still there, barely visible, shoved to the back of the drawer.
I reviewed the situation. Dogs? Safe. Computers? Safe. Gun? Safe. The worst-case scenarios were no longer threatening to unravel me. An intense wave of relief washed over my being, and I suddenly felt as if this situation was not a big deal. I no longer cared what was missing. Nothing left was as important as what was still here. The relief felt so good and I felt so light compared to the heavy dread I had felt only moments before.
I completed a second walk-though of the house with the police. I made them a list of everything that was missing, which fortunately was limited to some of my jewelry and my husband’s change jar. My husband and a friend repaired our door that evening, and we had an alarm system installed over the next couple of days.
After the break-in, we kicked around theories about what happened. Why didn’t the thieves take more stuff? Why weren’t our dogs a deterrent? Why our house? What else could we have done to avoid this? Ultimately, the speculation got us nowhere except to the decisions not to move and to get an alarm system.
It could have been much worse. “That was brave of you coming into the house alone,” the cop had said to me. “What made you do that when saw your front door was open?” The thieves had tried to close the door when they left, but the bottom of caught on a splintered piece of wood on the floor and it didn’t close all the way. I couldn’t tell the door was open from the street. “Good thing they weren’t still in the house when you showed up,” the cop commented. That had never crossed my mind.
Any situation can always be worse. We can be grateful that it’s not.