This is a weird day for me. I am celebrating 1400 days of freedom, three years and ten months. Those of you who have been here for three years might remember that I suffered a monumental loss on my ten month anniversary. I wrote a blog celebrating my 10 months before I left for work and a little after 3:00, while I was at work, my husband called and said, “The house is on fire.” I honestly did not believe him, I thought something that could be handled with an extinguisher was all there was going to be. I responded reflecting my denial and I said, “I am at work, I can’t do anything right now.” I had three students in line waiting to check out so they could get back to class. I insisted on checking them out. My boss had overheard what I said and knew that my phone had been ringing sort of nonstop just before that call and afterwards. She asked me what was going on and I told her that my husband called and said the house was on fire. She said, “Ellen, you HAVE to go.” I told her I couldn’t because my husband had the car and he wasn’t going to come and pick me up…I live very close to where I worked. She said, “I am taking you home, NOW.” I picked up my stuff and I followed her out to her car…I could hear multiple sirens and I could see and smell smoke, all of a sudden, it hit me that this was really serious. When we got to my road they would not let us pass. I live on a hill and I said, that is MY HOUSE that is burning and I cannot walk up that hill, I have emphysema and I am already short of breath because of the smoke. They let me go to a few houses down the road from my house and sternly told me not to go running toward the house…I can’t run. I asked where my husband was and if they had gotten my cats out…my BELOVED cats. Mina had just turned 19, Poe was 9, and Zep who was the love of my life, was just 6. They assured me that they knew about the cats and that everything would be okay. I listened to the windows breaking, I watched a large hole from something blowing through the tin roof, I could still hear sirens and people talking on radios and shouting back and forth. It was seriously the experience of nightmares. I kept thinking of the fear those cats had to feel. We lost everything…the cats, all of my children’s photographs and school papers, everything that was ever gifted to us by our family members. They came and told us that they had found three bodies, the three bodies of the cats…all in the same room, all where we told them they would be. They died of smoke inhalation and they looked like they were sleeping. We are back on the same lot in a different house, our cats are buried in the back yard along with other animals we have lost in the years since we moved here. The biggest thing that relates to this site is that I did not smoke…so many people told me that they could not believe that I hadn’t smoked. I asked them what good it would have done. I was so engulfed in my grief that I could not imagine lighting a cigarette and smoking…how HORRIBLE that would have been.
It has been three years, I grieve the loss of those cats every day, I feel the loss of the “things”, certainly the photographs, some special mementoes of my own childhood but I know that smoking would not make anything better. My heart aches when I think of that day and even three years later, the tears still come but not as often. My boss thought I should “see someone” to maybe get medication to help me get through, I saw a psychiatrist because I wanted to know if he thought I was in trouble. He looked at me and he said, “Ellen, you are not depressed, you are SAD. If you were NOT sad, there would be something really wrong.” I went back to my boss and I told her, “I am SAD, the drug I would have used to get through this in the past was nicotine, I am feeling this loss the way I SHOULD be.” She never told me that I needed to “see someone” again. I was learning to deal with emotions. I am much stronger now. My health is not the best but all I can do is to go forward.
Love to all those who helped me and to all of those who took the time to read this.