My life has been anything but relaxing in the last few months. I would love to say that I haven’t posted in a while because I was just taking some time off and relaxing or anything pleasant but that is far from the truth. My life has been an intense roller coaster for the last few months and I am so beyond exhausted that I haven’t even had any time to wind down and just have some me time.
Now that those things are starting to calm down… I decided it was time to start focusing on getting back to doing all the things that I love to do again.
So let’s catch up on life here!
December 24, 2018… Christmas Eve was being held at my house this year so we had my mom, my sister, Ryan, the twins, Ryan’s sister Julia and her daughter Madeline. I honestly never get to see Julie as she lives so far away so I really was looking forward to having her and Madeline. Julie and I used to be so close when we lived together and I’ve missed spending time with her. Everything was going so well and then the day just started to get a bit stressful. I felt like I didn’t have enough gifts for the kids so I decided to kill myself on Christmas Eve and do last minute toy shopping for them while also getting tape and everything needed to wrap. It was beautiful outside so my mom and sister had come early so that they could take the kids to the park and we could get some presents wrapped. Unfortunately, though shopping took much longer than I thought and then I needed a nap for a few minutes so I never got to wrap anything while they were gone. Therefore, my sister helped by taking them back in to their room and playing with them while the rest of us starting wrapping presents. My mom was in charge of dinner so literally all I had to do was sit and wrap these presents for them.
My mom then comments before she puts everything in the oven that she wanted to check what flavors of juice I had. I told her I had bought lemonade but that it might not be the brand she likes and that I forgot to stop at the store. She sits for a minute and then comments how she’s going to run to the store quick before they close because she really wants raspberry lemonade. We argue back and forth about how it’s not necessary and we should just all relax but she is insistent that she’s going to be quick and I forfeit the argument. She leaves and we all continue wrapping what we can. Less than 2 minutes later she comes running back in the house that we need to call 911 because the apartment next door is on fire. Now since I have never been in this kind of situation and it didn’t seem like it was that big since there was not any smoke in my apartment, we all did the typical jerk thing to do, got our slippers on, and went outside to see. I remember thinking… I will just throw some slippers on and see what it looks like. Never in a million years did I think that those were going to be the only shoes that I was able to take ever again from that apartment.
The fire looks huge but seems contained to just the tenant’s kitchen and he wasn’t home so we weren’t worried about anyone getting hurt. A police officer showed up first and by that time, it was clear that the fire was definitely getting bigger and spreading faster than imaginable. At that point, I told my mom to put the kids in her car and we would just have dinner at her place. There would be fire trucks here soon and I didn’t want the noise to scare them. Then the police officer broke the tenant’s door down and that is when we all knew that things were going to get much worse than we had initially thought. Once that door was broken down, the cold air from the outside flew in and the fire went directly up into the roof and spread fast. The police officer said the entire apartment was ablaze and there wasn’t anything he could see or do. So we grabbed the animals, 3 toddlers and the adults and all piled into three separate cars. That is when the fire truck arrived and we will never forget what he said to the cop as the officer asked what he could to help… “Call more men… this is too big… we need more men”. That’s when it hit me… This fire was much worse than I really thought because even the firefighters look like they are concerned. We were all rushed out of the complex and all went to my mom’s house to wait and see what would happen. I remember grabbing my cell phone charger thinking that my phone was in my bag but unfortunately, it was locked inside the apartment next to the presents that I was wrapping. Phones can be replaced though… my whole family was safe and it’ll be okay. We’ll get in there late tonight.
We waited about 2 hours and then drove back to the apartment to see what had happened and what was going on. My mom kept the kids and the dogs at her place so that they could go to bed but I needed to know that my things were okay and that we could go home tomorrow. However, when we pulled up… a police officer was blocking the entire street and you could still see smoke pouring out into the sky along with the sounds of helicopters above and sirens everywhere. I remember asking the cop when we would be able to go back inside and he stated that even after 2 hours, they still had not fully put the fire out and that the helicopters above were news stations filming. I knew then that there was a very good chance that my home was then gone.
Christmas morning… we were finally able to get into the apartment complex and see the outside of everything. The entire building next to mine was completely burned down. The roof on my building was gone, the roof on the building on the other side was gone and there was just water and debris everywhere. My building was sealed off with caution tape and there was a police officer stationed there to make sure that no one attempted to enter the building. I was able to climb up slightly to see inside my apartment and it was just all black since the power was out. I remember thinking that if I could get around to my porch, I would be able to see everything but it looked as though it was all taped off. Honestly, I didn’t even have any shoes on since I left with just my slippers on and since the ground was still soaking wet with water, it didn’t seem like a good idea anyways. They still would not tell us anything. Everyone claimed that they didn’t know anything and we were still waiting for the Fire Marshall to come and inspect the building before they would allow us to go inside the building. I couldn’t believe this. Christmas and I could not even be at home with my kids, I could not celebrate it at all. Everyone else was trying their best to be in the Christmas spirit but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t get it together long enough to be able to enjoy Christmas at all and this was the holiday that I counted down to almost my entire life. I was so excited this year to give the kids their new kitchen sets and have them be able to build their own little houses. I was so excited to see their faces when they saw their presents and here I am sitting there thinking, “What if they don’t even have anything to open from me anymore?” “What if it is all gone?”
The following day the kids stayed with my mom and I went into my job to talk to them about what I could do because I just needed a few days off. I needed just some time to get myself together and figure some things out. I also needed a phone because mine was lost in the apartment and so I got set up with all of that as well as HR helped me with some contacts for people that would be able to help me short term. They also were beyond amazing and helped put me and the kids up in a hotel while we were looking for a new place to live. This way my kids didn’t have to be in some dingy hotel since unfortunately my mom’s apartment complex does not allow small children other than visiting. As I was leaving work, we got the call that we could enter the apartment but had to be in and out in under 10 minutes. I raced over there as fast as I could, not knowing what we would be walking into or what would be left, but I just needed to see it. That’s when we saw…. Even though the fire did not reach the apartment, everything inside was gone due to water and smoke damage. The ceiling gave out to all of the water since the fire did reach the apartment above mine. The beds that were only bought less than 6 months ago, gone. Dressers that were close to brand new, gone. All of our clothes, jackets, shoes, pictures, furniture, and electronics, everything… gone. I couldn’t believe it… it was almost surreal. To think that just minutes before, we were sitting there wrapping presents thinking that life was good and that it was nice to all be together opening presents.
You begin to take life and everyone/everything for granted after a while sometimes. You think ‘That will never happen to me’, yet it could. I never thought I would ever need to completely rebuild my life from scratch. I never thought that I would lose all of the memories that I had built. I had hoped that since the kids were only two that they would not be able to understand anything or be that traumatized from the entire fiasco but rebuilding has been much harder than just replacing material items. The kids went from sleeping through the night in their own beds to waking up screaming after 2 hours terrified and needing to come into my bed. They used to love going to school every day and used to barely even wave goodbye now they cry and beg me not to leave or they need to bring in several stuffed animals for security. James was terrified of an electric fireplace that did nothing but show a picture of flames and screamed “No fire here! Fire in old house!” I pray every night that with time things will get better and that I just need to be patient but it’s hard. I feel like every day I am failing with everything. I feel like every day that I’m not helping them as much as I should be. It’s also much harder for me than I ever imagined. I look at pictures and even the smallest thing of “Damn I loved those shoes” and I just want to cry. I think about all the memories of the kids in that apartment. It’s where they both took their first steps, where they hit so many milestones…even for me… it was my first apartment after the kids were born since we lived with my mom for a year. I miss that apartment so much. It’s crazy… when I lived there I complained about it constantly and how much it drove me nuts… but once it was gone… I cried every night just wanting to go home.
Do not take anything for granted. Appreciate what you have while you have it. Count your blessings daily.
And don’t worry… I’ll be back next week for more posts. XOXO