How do I write about the most painful event in my life? I know once I get going the thoughts will just flow so freely so I decided to try to unload this heavy load of emotional thoughts into the blog.
I’ll start by saying my journals are OK… my books… but my kids books… are gone.
As I drove home from what seemed to be a sparingly normal day. My two beautiful girls resting in the back, I got a phone call from my Landlord and the Fire Department, explaining that My house has just experienced a fire and the damage is devastating. The feeling of helpless worry, stress, anxiety all built up at once. I was on the freeway, about 10 minutes away … going about 75 MPH but telling myself to calm down over and over and over wasn’t working as a thousand thoughts start rushing into my head about different things.
“Where was the fire??” “Is the whole house gone??” ” My journals!!!!!” ” Oh thank god my kids are with me, right here , aw there gorgeous !!!” by this time I’m in tears squealing and trying to catch my breath , stepping on the gas pedal but rocking and bouncing in my seat with worry and anxiety. The car couldn’t have gone fast enough which I didn’t push it because in my mind. I’m going to see it no matter how fast I go.. This happened, whether I get there in 7 minutes or 10. I paced myself and tried to calm my 6 years old down, whom of course noticed me get a phone call and immediately squeal as if I had been pinched and start breathing like something was wrong. 😦
I’m of course also backtracking and retracing every step throughout my day. Did I leave my flat Iron on ? No, because I unplugged it and wrapped it up and put it in the bathroom closet. Did I leave candles lit? No , no candles were lit that day.. at all. I hadn’t smoked since early that morning and I took all tobacco and marijuana products (half smoked and all ) with me when I left at noon. What did I do wrong?! How could this happen!!!
This is legitimately the one thing that I dread, and have dreaded since I’ve BEEN writing. I always feared that there would be a fire, and I would first be worried about my children but then My books, My journals. I’ve been writing since I was 9 years old, I have 11 journals with precious memories in them that I fear to lose. I asked my mom to get me a chest with a lock on it big enough to store all 11 of my journals and then some, so that if there were ever a fire, I would be able to ask a firefighter to go back in and just GRAB the chest with my books in it.
I’ll take you back a few hours. I woke up… Smoked my marijuana while the baby took her morning nap and my 6-year-old played on her new tablet daddy got her for Christmas in the living room. This was 8:30 am. I decided I wanted to straighten my hair at about 9:37 am (these are legit pictures in my head of the time I glanced at the clock) I finished it at 10:57 am and planned to get out of the house and do some laundry and get a few things done.
All the while I’m doing things around my house I hear the maintenance man downstairs banging and clanking around in my downstairs neighbors apartment. Her bathroom is covered in black mold and has been for a whole year now. She kept telling the landlord and finally at the beginning of December, they started to Rehab the bathroom and tear it all out.
I left the house with 6 loads of dirty laundry and I came back at about 1:22 pm and dropped them all off. I sat them on my bed – 3 trips to and from the car (All of those clothes were covered with my ceiling and I’m certain burned as well turned into ash ). Nothing was unusual in my apartment. There are only 3 outlets in my bedroom , only 2 of which had things plugged in. Everything seemed normal when I left with plans of dropping my girls off over at their grandma’s house while I went and did some thrift store shopping.
Finally, Getting off of the freeway, driving up the long street that leads to my home… This was definitely the time that impatience stepped in, for the driver’s who had no fire at their home, nor did they have any place to be at all, so speed limit’s or rushing people behind them didn’t bother them. 5:35pm I pull around the bend to see the neighborhood lit up with red and white flashing lights and about 2 fire trucks, several volunteer fire trucks, red cross personnel and fire fighter’s everywhere.
I pull up to the front of the house kind of crooked just so I could put the car in park and hop out. I’m shaking and breathing so hard trying to hold the tears back from what at the time I thought was my bedroom. I’m looking at my girl’s bedroom window’s and the screen’s have been ripped out and tossed on my 6-year old’s bed in order to release the toxic smoke from the home. Quickly my eyes jump from window to window. “Where was the fire,” I think to myself. I can still see my Christmas tree in my living room window with no lights but, that’s just that. It’s still there. So relief for my diaries because I specifically remember moving them into the new Christmas chest my mom got me and left it locked and in the living room ;).
But wait. So this means. The kitchen or my room… I hop out of the car and jog over to the front of my house (I lived on the side door, in the upstair’s of an old home built in the 1800’s) All of the fire fighter’s, of course, start to notice that it’s me, the owner of the home, or the lease because I’m breaking right in front of their eyes.
I just remember everything getting muffled as I looked up into my bedroom window… All I could see was the skeleton of the room, covered in black ash. I could see all the way through where the ceiling used to be up to the attic rafters. From where I was standing the fire was out, and there was no furniture in the room. My land lord’s maintenance man was already there with a truck that had a trailer attached backing it up underneath my window as they began to shovel the ash that used to be my belongings out of my window.
I stood there and stared up at my window, tears running down my face in disbelief. “I was just here..” I whispered to myself .. “How could this happen!?” … As loud as it was there, for a brief moment, things got very quiet to me. Like a strangely uncomfortable pain all around me as I glanced to branch on the tree in front of my house, I noticed a piece of fabric hanging from the branch. I slowly walked up to it, and I believe I was in the middle of a conversation with one of the chief fire fighter’s and my landlord, but Like I said. I stopped listening. I was in a painful trauma daze if you will. I grabbed the piece of fabric that had clearly been on fire at one point and pulled it from the branch. It was a pair of my panties (shown hanging in the picture above)… It had somehow ended up hanging from the branch even though it was sealed tightly inside some plastic drawers which were at one point in my burning bedroom.
Finally, I Begin to pull it together a little bit but I can tell you that from this point forward for the next 2 days, I cried anytime I thought about my things, Anytime I talked about it.
I go back to my car and my 6-year-old is in tears. I try to reassure her everything is going to be okay, but I know, she’s only crying like she is because of me and my reaction which was ENTIRELY uncontrollable. I hear a tap on my window… It’s a firefighter with a message of almost immediate simple relief. “How old are your little ones?” He asks’s .. I tell him ” 1 and 6 ” He begins to explain that the fire department has a ton of brand new toy’s for situations like this and he will have some of the guys run back and get some for them. I, of course, burst into tears all over again.. thanking him and weeping.
Right after that Red cross show’s their face and let me know that they can help with food, clothes, shelter and anything that we need and to just let them know. I actually kind of went off on them at first because I didn’t’ think that I needed ANYTHING YET! I had seen my room but from what they were telling me , I was going to be able to go inside, I may just need to clean but we would be able to come home. At this point, I had no idea that we were homeless.
I of course, during my spurt of explaining to them that this is all happening too fast, I have no idea what I have, and don’t have I have no idea what the inside looks like, I just don’t know what I need!!! I ask them to give me a moment. They are completely understanding and they step back for a moment. I get back in my car and call my mom and my kids dad to tell them what’s going on. I also sent a couple other thing’s just for memory and timeline purposes and to keep those that were closest to me updated on what just happened.
The Chief come’s back and asks me to fill out my statement of the last few hours of what I did during my day, so I did. My downstair’s neighbor’s run up to me and give me the biggest, most heart-wrenching hug that I needed so bad. We wept and hugged for at least 5 minutes. Their apartment did not suffer any smoke damage or fire damage at all.. but all they were worried about (they weren’t home either while the fire occurred) was me and my kids being in the home at the time of the fire so they were extremely happy to see us all safe and sound outside of the house.
The fire department allows’s Red cross to go into the apartment and take a gander around to see how bad the damage is and what they can do to help. They later supply me with a MasterCard to be used for anything that I need to survive for the next few days with $483 dollars on it. I was shocked… I’m pretty sure it was after I was standing there crying after I had gone in for myself and realized all of my clothes, shoes , anything that I OWNED.. was gone. All of the 6 loads of laundry that I set on my bed and spent $20 to wash at the laundromat earlier… GONE.. so when she surprised me with that MasterCard I was extremely grateful !
The Fire Chief came and got me and said they were going to let me do a walk through now that the particles aren’t as bad and the fire is out. They, of course, needed to ask me a million and one questions for their investigation. The red cross and my downstairs neighbor’s stayed with my girls as I prepared to enter the home.
My 6 year old asked me to get her favorite oversized plush rottweiler puppy named “Charley” for her when I went in. We both immediately started to cry at the thought of poor charkey having to endure such an awful event. Charkey is like her blankey. He is the one stuffed toy that she may never play with but only feels safe and secure if he’s around.
I braced myself to enter what used to be my home, that is now burnt and smelling of pure Smoke. All of the fire fighters’s asking me to watch my step as I step over cords for equipment that helped clear the home of smoke and carbon monoxide particles in the air. I pressed record on my phone camera as I stepped through my home in awe. It was an emotional trip, walking through each room noticing the black soot that was covering my wall’s and belongings that were left. They led me into the living room where I of course first noticed the locked chest which held my diaries safely inside. With relief, I had to touch it, just to know. Yes.. They are safe.
I then noticed the pictures that were on my walls had been ruined, and all windows covered in soot and open. The living room in itself does not look too badly damaged from my night time view of it in the dark with flashlights. They lead me into my girl’s room… I look around and, of course, everything is there… but the walls, Black… I spot Charkey and all of her oversized stuffed animals underneath the screens which were thrown on top of them. I run to him, pick him up and all of the firefighters tell me immediately..” No. Put him down, You should not give that to your child..” they say ” We don’t recommend giving a child any toy that has been through a fire or had smoke damage due to the poison from everything that did burn in the air, it could ultimately cause cancer…” I drop charkey squealing with pain and moaning with anger and hurt for my baby girl. This was the stuffed animal I planned to give to her daughter or son someday.. (I know, I know material things can be replaced but this was how I felt, right then.. In this moment)
We move on through the hallway and peer into the bathroom. All walls black. On the sink is my jewelry box , burnt to a crisp and a few of the trinkets and knick knack things that my mom gave me when I first moved out on my own..burnt’ to a crisp..– these were things that were on my dresser.
They take me into the kitchen and mind you at night. I could not see how bad it was, to me I could only notice how nothing was burned in the kitchen, living room, bathroom or the girls room.
Finally.. they lead me towards my bedroom. As I look in with several fire fighter’s still standing inside the room I can see that my grandma’s hope chest that my mom gave me… is done… burnt to a crisp.. but the blankets I kept inside it survived – which with those were some of the blankets I recieved after my great grandma passed away. My bed is still there at this point, the mattress is burnt and has holes through it. Bed frame is still there , dresser .. still there . The dresser – at night was the only thing that looked to have survived. The bedroom door only had the bottom half to it, the whole top half burned away.
The back wall to the left of my window had a book shelf- yet again that my mom gave me, it had all of my kids books on it. ALL OF THEM. I kept them in my room so the girls wouldn’t tear them up 😦 and in the end, they ended up being destroyed in my room . The scariest part is that on the night of december 25th 2014 I moved all of my journals into the living room where my chest was.. and locked them inside it, I was too lazy that night to move them back into my room so I left them in the living room.
There were curtains pinned over both windows in my room and a blanket over the front window to keep the heat in my window’s that loved to breathe the winter air. In front of the bookshelf was my Cedar hope chest. There was only one outlet in that whole area which ..the aftermath of that outlet did not look like it had even been in a fire. There were no candles or flames near that area. In my mind, the only thing I could think is that it must have been electrical because they said it seemed to have started back in that corner where the bookshelf was.
I wept while looking at all of the ash that used to be my things. I peered into my closet which was where I kept all of my winter coats, and my 1-year-olds two plastic drawer set’s full of baby clothes. All I could see was a big pile of black soot. I began to cry all over again. All of the clothes my grandma, Her other grandma, her daddy, aunts and uncle’s had gotten her were in those drawers. I had just organized them and put them away.
After doing a thorough explanation as to where everything was located in that room, answering all of the fire investigator’s questions and trying to remain calm it was time to go back to my girls and get on the road to head to my mom’s house.
A tragic event like this can only be softened by a mother’s love, a mother’s comfort so that is the first person I called with those thoughts in mind. I will have to write another blog for that because long story short, my mother’s home is not a safe haven and she has really crooked ways at looking at certain situations. This one being she made it about herself. About how she was worried, about how she had done this and done that but the things I needed her to do , she did not.
I know I said earlier that I cried for 2 days on and off, It is now the 4th day and I have accepted the situation at hand as what it is. I lost my home, It is uninhabitable, the smoke damage is so bad that I will have to throw away pretty much everything.
I went back the next morning to see how bad it really was, which is when I took all of these pictures. This was also when I realized I was homeless… and needed to search for a new home immediately and find a temporary place to stay and seek assistance.