I was celebrating my ten month anniversary and wrote a blog saying so just before I left for work. I was really feeling amazing. At 3:30 that afternoon, my cell phone was ringing like crazy. I did not want to answer it because I was at work and I was busy. When I finally did answer, it was my husband, calling to tell me that our house was on fire. It did not register in my brain and I told him I am at work, I can't do anything. My boss overheard me and asked what was going on, I told her and she told me to go home. I didn't have the car, my husband had dropped me off and while the house was fairly close to work, it was not within walking distance for someone with COPD AND it was on a hill. She said she would take me home. I went outside to the parking lot with her and I could hear multiple sirens, I could see smoke, I could see flames. My knees buckled and I had to go back and get my cell phone because I dropped it in my haste to get out. She drove me as close as the emergency workers would allow...I nearly bit one person's head off because they wanted her to park at the bottom of the hill. I knew I could not walk up that hill. The smoke was so thick and I was sobbing so hard...my beloved cats were in that house, Mina was 19, Poe (who is in my avatar) was 9, and Zep was 6. I wanted them out, I wanted them safe. It was not meant to be...we lost everything we owned...all of our possessions, our photographs of our kids growing up, gifts that had been given to us by our families, but the hardest thing was when they told us they had found two bodies and then a short time later, they found the third. The fire destroyed everything, I went to work that morning and there was no home to return to. As I watch in horror what is happening in California and the loss of life, both people and animals, my heart breaks into tiny pieces. That SMELL stays with you forever...the fear, the sorrow, the upheaval are beyond anything I can possibly describe.
Thank GOD, I had EX, I was able to contact a member Jaxson1_quit_01-16-2014 who quit three days before I did and I asked her to let people know. This site and these amazing people held me up. It was the Wednesday the week before Thanksgiving. We actually got snow the following week and I remember because I went to feed the feral cat that lived on our deck and in a little shelter we had made him...there was no more deck or shelter but there were outbuildings and he wasn't leaving. I fell going down the yard and I didn't want to injure my shoulder so I just fell on my chest and broke a rib up on the left side...very close to my heart. The pain was horrible, I had broken many ribs in the past and still do but less often. I ended up having to go to the emergency room two days later because I was not sure that I wasn't having a heart attack. Nope...just the rib...splintered.
I was working at a university and they immediately began collecting donations of clothing and furniture for us...I still have much of it. People came forward and made monetary contributions and the cards and letters and messages were so amazing. I did not think I would EVER stop crying. I am crying now thinking about that day. Those beloved cats are buried in our backyard, we have a modular home built on the same lot as our old house which was built in the 1850's. I miss the photographs, the baby books, the little things my mother gave me, but most of all, I miss Mina and Poe and Zep. They all died of smoke inhalation and they looked like they were sleeping. Zep had asthma and he had both of his paws covering his face, an image I will never forget.
Many people said they could not believe that I did not smoke over that. I asked each one, what GOOD would that have done? It would not have made anything better...not one thing. Today is the anniversary of the day the earth stopped turning for me. I knew I would never be the same person, I knew that I would never take anything or anyone for granted. I knew that what matters in this life is LIFE and I will do everything in my power to protect mine and to help others.
For those of you who went through this with me...thank you, thank you, thank you. You will never know how much your loving support meant to me and still means to me. The following year...I had both upper lobes of my lungs surgically removed and you were there for me then too. I owe you all an enormous debt of gratitude. To all of you newbies...once you accept that smoking really does nothing FOR you, it becomes MUCH easier.
Love to each of you,