Nothing Matters except Family

| May 4, 2016

A Letter to the Editor;

shared with permission, written by Fort McMurray resident, John MacIsaac on May 3, 2016 


I am laying here in the dark on the floor of a camp room.

My family was fortunate enough to get a room but I know not everyone was as lucky.

Right now I am so jealous of my children because they have no fears, no sense of loss about everything. It’s actually calming for me to reassure my daughter that her toys don’t matter and that the few personal items we got out are more than we need.

It’s funny, because as I stare in the dark I keep telling myself that the words running through my head aren’t true. The words “it’s all gone” won’t pass. But I keep reminding myself of what I know to be true more than ever.

I have everything in this room with me. When I was leaving our home I looked all around and tried to decide what was important enough to take and the answer was nothing.

Nothing mattered except my family.

John MacIsaac's family photo, his shares his thoughts from evacuating the Fort McMurray fire and reminds us to hug our family a little tighter.

John MacIsaac’s family photo, his shares his thoughts from evacuating the Fort McMurray fire and reminds us to hug our children a little tighter.

It still doesn’t.

And I feel so grateful because when I tried to leave town south bound I was separated from my wife and my daughter Olivia, and I had my daughter Emma with me. I got to a point where I couldn’t go further and the highway was covered in flames and I didn’t think we would make it out.

I looked at my angel and I have never felt such a fear. Such dread thinking. I wouldn’t be able to save what I hold dear. That’s what I can’t shake. What I can’t let go.

And while I trembled and shook; my little girl in all her innocence, smiled at me and was laughing and wanted to play.

I’m not writing this for help or for sympathy. I have what I need and we will be just fine.

I’m writing this for two reasons. One because I need to let some of this out of my head, and two because I hope it will make everyone squeeze your kids a little tighter this week. Read them an extra bedtime story. Give them ice cream and watch them smile.

Call your sister you are angry at and make up, or your brother you haven’t had time to chat with in a while and say hi. Tell your loved ones they are loved and make time for a family dinner.

Everything else is bullshit.

It does not matter.

I came to Fort McMurray in 2008. I already knew wen I got here I didn’t like it and I was just gonna make a few dollars and leave.

This place has become my home because I found out everything I heard about the town was wrong. It is friendly, happy and a great sense of community. And it has given me everything.

My wife. My children. My career. My friends. My greatest memories and milestones.

And tonight as I write, I still have all those things.

As I left town tonight I saw emergency workers still working. Risking their lives to get us all out.

Police. Paramedics. Firefighters.

And from what I have heard so far, we all got out. And I have even heard we have a few new members to help rebuild our community, as some children have been born in the midst of chaos and are safe and sound in one of the work camps north of town.

I saw camp workers going up to the desk of their camp trying to hand in their keys so families could have a place to stay. People smiling and people in tears, and children running and laughing. It gives me hope that people are better than we think. More caring and selfless. Kind and compassionate.

And Fort McMurray, I don’t know what’s left of it really. But I know it will stand again. It will be rebuilt. Because my story of Fort McMurray is all too common.

We are young and we love our home.

We have built it together as it has built us and our families. And the sense of community I what, I have always known from growing up in small towns like most of the people here.

I don’t really know if anything here made sense, nor do I care. I do know it has helped me tremendously to put it in words, and if you have read this far thanks for your time and goodnight.


Thank You John MacIsaac for sharing your heartfelt words. – B.C

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Category: Letters, Opinion

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