Six years ago today, it was my ten month anniversary and I was so excited that I got up early and wrote a blog to celebrate before I left for work. I got several calls on my cell phone at 3:30 and I was ignoring them because I was busy.
Once I finally answered, it was my husband and he said, "The house is on fire." I am not sure if I was in denial or if I just thought he was exaggerating. That would be QUITE the exaggeration. My boss overheard me say that I was at work and I did not know what he wanted me to do. Like today, it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving week. When I told my boss what the call was about, she told me to go home. I told her that I couldn't go home because I didn't have the car, my husband had driven me. She said she would take me. When we got outside of the building, I could hear sirens and smell smoke, I could see flames. All I could think of was that our cats were in the house. We had lost three cats to the road after moving to that house. They all were hit in the same place and we made a decision that no other cats would be going outside. We got to the street my house was on and the fire department would not let us drive up to the house. They said we would have to walk. I told them that I had emphysema and there was no way I could walk up that hill. They agreed to let us go partway and then park. I stood in the road sobbing as my house was engulfed in flames and I could hear glass breaking as the windows blew out. I kept thinking about how scared the cats must be with all that noise from the sirens and the house itself. I told the firemen that there were three cats in there on the second floor. They told me not to worry about the cats because cats usually find a way out. I wanted so much to believe them, they would not let me get close to the house, I guess they thought I would make an attempt to go inside. One EMT wanted to put oxygen on me. I had never been on oxygen and I said no, I would be fine. I really don't know how long we were there, I guess it was getting dark. They asked us to just sit in the ambulance for a while and when we were there, one of the firemen came out and said they had found "two bodies". I burst into tears. I knew those two bodies would have been Poe, who was the black cat in my avatar, she was nine and Zep, he was a grey tuxedo cat with more personality than his body could contain. There was one other cat, Mina, and she had just turned 19 in September. I knew she would not be with them because she and Poe did not get along. They found her body later, she was apparently trying to get into the room where they were. All three of the cats died of smoke inhalation, I found that so ironic. Zep had asthma and he had his front paws covering his face. Poe looked like she was sleeping, Mina had some brown color on her whiskers. They told us that we could pick the cats up at the SPCA the next day. We did that and we buried them in our backyard along with the other cats we had lost. We lost everything in that house, absolutely everything, photographs, school papers from our kids, all of the things we had been given by family members. The fire started when an extension cord came into contact with a box of papers. The cord did not have anything plugged into it and it was new so we really don't know why it ignited. My husband walked into the living room and saw smoke and ran to the kitchen and got a pan of water and threw it on the box...just as he did that, the heat came on and the flames went to the ceiling. He said it was all black smoke and he did not know where he was. He crawled out and tried to get the cats out from the wrong side of the house. Two people who were walking by called 911 and made him get off the ladder. If he had gone to the other side of the house, I don't know if he could have saved them. There was so much smoke damage, so many things that were melted and unrecognizable. The china cabinet had apparently been burning and they pointed the hose at it so everything inside was shattered. My heart was shattered, I knew that I would never be the same. I loved those cats so much, we had gotten each one when they were kittens. Zep slept on my head every night, I shared my pillow with him.
People who knew I had quit smoking kept asking me if I had started again. I remember looking at them like they were speaking a different language, it honestly NEVER occurred to me to smoke. If I hadn't had the support of the people on EX, I am not sure I would have survived emotionally. I KNEW that smoking would not bring the cats back...I knew it would do nothing but leave me feeling even worse. There are people on this site who have lost family members during their first year quit, once you accept that smoking does not help anything, it does not FIX anything, you take away the power of the addiction.
I thank ALL of you who were here and who went through this with me in real time, I really think I would never have been able to survive without you. I love you ALL.