Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Phoenix Story: Part I

I'm not talking about Arizona, nor am I talking about Jean Grey of the X-Men. So, moving on...

I'm talking about my personal story of rising from the ashes and starting anew. This is something I've never liked to share, but after three years and encouragement from my dearest friends to write about it, here we go. At 9:00pm on May 20, 2009, an electrical fire started above the ceiling in my bedroom. (I learned from the fire inspector this was the flash-point.)

My mother had called me while I was at a friend's house a few miles away, telling me to hurry home because she heard loud noises on the second floor. Fearing somebody had climbed a ladder to break in a back window, I raced home while my mother locked herself in the first-floor bathroom. A moment before reaching my street, not even five minutes after the initial phone call, Mom called again to tell me the house was on fire and that she and my dog had made it out safely. Pulling on to my street, I couldn't reach the driveway, as it was blocked by the first of many firetrucks that would arrive that night. After parking and running to the neighbor's yard to see my mother, I learned that the door had shut behind her and she didn't have a key to let the firefighters inside. I ran to my front door to unlock it before the firefighters tried to break through, something that would've taken precious minutes, as the antique door was made of three-inch-thick solid oak. I ran back to my mother, who by this time was surrounded by a few neighbors who happened to be walking down the road at that time.

The next four hours are a blur. Too often, people say they're in a state of shock. That night I felt a searing pain in my head and the rest of my body nearly shut down. I did all I could to act strong and keep my mother's spirits up while trying to avoid passing out. I remember very little, and the night plays out in my mind like simple photographs. At some point, a dear friend from down the street walked over. He stayed with us for hours just to attend to my dog. Mom called my aunt (her sister) to give her the news. She drove over to check on us then returned home to make room for us later that night. Though the fire was out within an hour, about 25 firefighters from five stations ended up working throughout the night to tend to the fire and its aftermath. Around 1:00am, I was allowed to enter my home with two firefighters for a very brief moment to gather possessions from the dining room and bathroom at the front of the house, the only two rooms not to have received fire or water damage. I scooped up some of my mother's things from the bathroom then managed to find a few pieces of clothing in the foyer closet. After this, the remaining firefighters left, and I left with my mother and my dog to stay at my aunt's house.

I still understand how I made it safely to her house. I remember shaking while holding the steering wheel, yet I don't remember a second of the drive there. I also don't remember passing out in the living room recliner, only waking up there the next morning with my mother near me on the sofa. I guess we were both too far gone to make it to the guest bedrooms. Within moments of waking, I had a complete breakdown. I couldn't breath, couldn't speak. I dug my hands into the recliner's arms with all my force as I realized, item by item, what was lost in the fire. It took my mother's yelling to startle me back into reality.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this. I'll share the rest of the story tomorrow, and I truly wish you get something out of it.

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