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It was dark out, the kind of night that you gaze upon and realize just how black the night sky can be. My husband (at the time) and I pulled into our assigned parking spot at the apartment complex that we lived in. It was around 11:30 at night, we had just spent many hours after a long day at work enjoying a meal and some beverages together. We did not have a lot of excess funds so it always felt like a treat to eat a meal out. We had been out much longer than anticipated for a work night, but it was worth it.
As I put the car in park I looked up to our second story windows, it seemed dark just as the night sky. I remember a thought passing through that it should be brighter as I had left some lights on, but I immediately dismissed the thought and stepped out of the car. Our downstairs neighbor came running our way, shouting and waving her arms. I did not hear her right away, it was as if I was watching a foreign film where the speaking and sound where not aligned. Then the sound wafted over to me…”Your house caught on fire and burned up.”
I stumbled backwards a bit, I heard the words but they were scrambled in my head. I was not processing them, surely I had misheard. But then I heard them again, much clearer this time. My house had caught on fire and burned up. I began to run toward it, my legs not carrying me near fast enough. My only concern was my pets, I had a very large (just over 6ft) iguana and my cat. I could hear my neighbor trying to talk to me to tell me the details and I just could simply not focus on her.
I burst into the pitch black apartment and it smelt and felt awful. It was burnt and dank from the water, much of the place still intact but I knew my belongings would never be the same. My neighbor caught up to me and became silent after I looked into her face, tears streaming down mine. She simply hugged me and whispered that my iguana (Tiny) and my cat (Koda) were doing fine. Knowing that they were safe, I broke down and began to sob more.
She told me that Tiny had been exceptionally smart and apparently the firefighters found him in the bathtub. My cat, Koda, had hidden under the bed in the furthest room away from the fire, but the smoke had gotten to her and the firemen had to revive her. Tiny’s cage had burnt in the fire so he had to stay in the bathroom for the evening. It was late and I was emotionally drained. My neighbor guided me downstairs and said I could stay with her for the night and that Koda was already resting in the room she had prepared for us.
The next day, as I awoke the realization wafted over me, this was not a dream. In a daze, I called work and told them of the fire. I then found my way to trudge back upstairs and survey the damage in the light of day. No insurance meant that I had to try to salvage as much as I could, but upon entering I had the compulsion to just trash everything.
Of all the things that I lost in that fire, which was most every possession I had ever acquired, the thing that still stands out the MOST to me was how it had impacted my faith in goodness of people. You see the rally of support from those that I knew and many that I didn’t, was one of the most miraculous events that I had ever had the privilege of witnessing. When people ban together to give to a cause from the loving compassion in their hearts, it can literally move mountains.
I was flooded with furniture, clothes, food, most anything you can think of that you might need to start over. There was even quite a hefty collection of cash to get me back on my feet. Frankly, I needed every bit of what was extended to me but there was an immense feeling of love and gratitude that I was able to experience from something that was so tragic.
Grimes, Angie. “What I Gained After Losing Everything” Hope Is Now, Dec/Jan 18: 8-11. Print.