In all fairness to this poor blog that I keep ignoring, I thought it work better if I posted an update on all that’s been going on the last 10 days. It seems like a half life has gone by since the night of the fire. The initial shock that had me walking around like a zombie for four days has thankfully worn off. Level heads prevail like they usually do with me and life must go on.
Here’s a time table on what’s happened:
05/19 – The night of the fire. Awful, awful night. There are parts to that night that are crystal clear and large chunks that are a complete blur. I remember running to my van to race home and all I could think was, “They’re wrong. They’ve got the wrong building. They’re wrong. It’s not my apartment. They’re wrong, they must be wrong.” As soon as my cheeks hit the seat of my van, I started praying. Actually it was more like shouting to God. “Please don’t let it be my apartment. God I’m not ready for this. God please scoop me up and bring me home to you right now. Don’t let this be true. God please let everyone be safe. No matter what, keep everyone safe, don’t let anyone get hurt.”
05/20 – The day after. Zombie=me. My Momma and Step-Dad arrived from Tallahassee early that morning. BW brought the kids to me so he could go to work and all I wanted to do was cuddle with them. I had to start thinking logically about what needed to be done immediately versus what could wait. Offers of assistance and donations begun pouring in – and when I say pouring in, I’m talking an epic flood. I’m so grateful God has surrounded me with an amazing network of friends who were more than willing to take the load from my shoulders about so many things. It allowed me to think of odd ball things like getting an emergency pair of glasses made and a spare sample pair of contacts because all I had were the contacts in my eyes that night. It’s kinda gross what 24 hours of crying will do to a pair of contacts. Momma took me shopping for a few immediate toiletry items and a few basic outfits to get me through the next few days. I had the hardest time focusing on what I needed to get from toothbrushes (she had to send me back for toothpaste) to shampoo (she had to send me back again for hairspray). I was stopped dead in my tracks when I had to decide on what type of hair dryer to get. Seriously? A purchase like that I’ll spend a week researching brands and types online before making a decision – a far cry from the 30 seconds I felt I had to spend deciding what to buy that night.
I sent Momma back home to Tallahassee that afternoon. They would have stayed but I felt like I needed to get started the next day on my own with the search for permanent housing and the 1,382,943 other details I saw headed my way. I went by the apartment four times that day searching for our cat, Tink. He had been missing since the previous night and based on others in the area, we were guessing he was one of several cats seen running from the building as the firefighters began entering the individual apartments. “KITTY KITTY KITTY… WHO’S HUNGRY?” Which actually sounds like “who’s hawngry” because that smart cat knows what that means! But no Tink came running from the bushes.
05/21 -Salvage crew arrives. We had been encouraged the day before when firefighters who were on the scene again said they would go into our apartment and pull a few items out (valuables, etc.) if we’d direct them to their location. I was deeply touched to see one of the firefighters recognize my son from the afterschool program where his own daughter attends. He took off his glove so he could shake E-Dubya’s hand and said, “hey buddy…how are you doing?” This same man brought me my jewelry box, my lap top, my photo albums (wet!), my daughter’s baby blanket, and my framed photos that he pulled off the walls. Since the day before had yielded such treasures as these, I had high hopes for what we would be able to salvage. But I was also prepared for the worst. Having followed along via blogging & Facebook on a friend who has also lost her apartment to a fire months before, emotionally I knew this day would be rough.
We had been told that we would not be allowed to enter the apartments so it caught me off guard when they said we could go in (after signing injury liability waivers of course). I would have signed just about anything at that point for the opportunity to go in, but I did have two of my girlfriends who were with me read over the waivers just in case. About an hour later along with 7 other guys I carefully climbed over slippery debris and slowly entered the apartment. I started pointing out things for them to bag up and as I made my way deeper in the apartment, my ears perked up to a sound I thought I had heard. I convinced myself in the next second that I was losing my mind and just hearing things. Less than one minute later, I heard workers call out from my bedroom, “WE GOT THE CAT! WE GOT THE CAT! THERE’S A CAT IN HERE!” Tink had been in the apartment the entire time, hiding out whenever anyone entered. Anyone, that is, till he heard my voice and then the meowing started. I really had heard him when I first came in. You would have thought we’d just pulled a toddler from an abandoned well the way we were all cheering, shouting and clapping.
The next hour was excruciating as we slowly made our way through the entire apartment grabbing this and that, emptying a dry shelf just above a wet muddy shelf of books. My heart broke a thousand times as I said good bye to the things I was leaving behind. I know – they are just “things” – but they were MY things that had real memories attached to them. Since we’d never expected to pull much more than a few bags and boxes, we weren’t prepared with the growing mound of personal items, pots & pans, my china/crystal/silver, Christmas decorations and even some smaller wood furniture items from the kids’ room. The SOS for help that I put out on Facebook was answered and a friend brought a box truck from his office out and with the help of some other angels who showed up to resuce me, we got it all loaded, transported, and then offloaded into a temporary storage location that a man from our church was allowing me to use at no cost.
Home for me is my best friend’s spare bed room. Home became a relative term this week. But that night, home is where I was trying my hardest to finalize plans for my son’s birthday party that had been scheduled for that following day. Because there was NO WAY we were cancelling that party.
To be continued…