One year ago early this morning, I experienced one of the most devastating nights of my life. My grandfather had passed away two months previously so I thankfully wasn’t sleeping well which is probably the only thing that allowed Ian and I to make it out of the house. I heard a noise and thought it was just the kittens (Nox and Nyx) getting into trouble. When I heard another louder noise, I got up to investigate and noticed when I got to the other side of the house that the edge of the curtain in the computer room was on fire. I stood there a few seconds trying to figure out how that was possible, and, when I finally moved the curtain, I could see the entire carport engulfed in flames. As I ran back to my room to get my phone to call my mother who was staying downstairs to let her know to get out, I started yelling at my grandmother and my husband that the house was on fire and to get out. Everything happened so quickly that by the time I grabbed my phone, I was just able to scoop up one of five cats (who had thankfully just walked into the bedroom) and find my way out through the flames and the smoke. I had no idea fire could spread that fast.
Ian, my mother, her fiance, Loki, and I survived. I am still amazed and thankful that we were so lucky.
We lost everything we owned, but things can be replaced. We have all come a long way over the past year, and it seems like we are starting to find our way in the world again. I don’t think it would’ve been possible without all of the wonderful people who pitched in to help. Thank you. Seriously… thank you. You cannot begin to understand how much it meant to all of us, and I know that I personally felt so lost that thinking about things like toothpaste and funeral arrangements made me feel overwhelmed. A representative for the Red Cross showed up at 2:30am–2:30 am!!– before we left the scene. If ever there is a charity to donate to, that would definitely be a good one! They put us up in a hotel room and provided us with a prepaid card to use for incidentals until we could get everything sorted out. Since this all happened on a Friday night, without their help we would’ve had it really rough since we had no debit/credit cards, cash, or access to banks until Monday morning. Again, THANK YOU.
My grandmother, Nox, Nyx, Bheartlebeay, and Khatlypsoh did not make it out.
After we made it to the front lawn, Ian and Clay went back into the house before the fire department arrived to try to find my grandmother with no success. Clay even busted through her bedroom window. They had to quit looking when we heard bullets start exploding from the heat. We stopped the first fire fighter on the scene from entering the building because of the bullets. He cried. He was an experienced professional, and he cried for a woman he never met because he had no way to try to save her.
The brief span of time that has passed has done nothing to dull the pain of losing my grandmother or our furry babies. Today, on the anniversary of their loss, I want to take a few moments to share them with you so that there will be others in the world who know a little something of their wonderfulness.
My grandmother was a woman who always put her family first. She could be cranky if denied access to her coffee and cigarettes, but she was one of the kindest, most generous women that I have ever known. She made the best chocolate pie known to man. It drove me crazy when she offered to help me do something because her idea of help was, “Here, let me show you.” The last few years she started enjoying reality tv shows–especially cop shows. When I was little, she would tuck me into bed at night and then not complain when I would wake, frightened, and crawl into bed with her and papaw. She complained about my cats, but she would get tickled when Nyx would worm her way under the covers of her bed. Sometimes, when Loki would lay on her bed, she would tell me as I brought her coffee to cover him up because he looked cold. She had a fascination with End of the Trail collectibles and loved going to concerts. She kept her home immaculately clean-the smallest bug would be a reason to commence with immediate scrubbing. She was born with polio which caused one of her legs to be shorter than the other. She was self conscious about it, but it didn’t detract from her beauty. She was named for a nurse that helped care for her in the hospital when she was born.
Nox and Nyx were approximately three years old. They were brother and sister–a grey tabby and a tortoiseshell. I found them at a little flea market on the side of the road in Maryville, and they were immediately loved by the household (except Loki). Every time I would make the bed, they would try to ‘help,” and we always ended up with cat bumps. They took turns lying on the top of my chair as furry headrests while I edited photos.
Sometimes, Nox would go visit Mamaw in her room, and I would grab him and sling him over my shoulder where he would purr contentedly and wave his tail until I let him down. I called him my little dog-cat because he would twitchilly wag his tail like a dog when he was happy or excited. He also liked to play fetch, and he repeatedly stole my hair bands.
Nyx favored Ian and Papaw. She had a loud war cry she would let out when she was looking for someone to play with. When Ian put his cologne on in the mornings, she would grab his arm with her paws and rub her head all over the scent.
Khatlypsoh was the first cat Ian and I picked out together, and she was the only cat we got in the conventional manner–from the humane society. She was around seven years old at the time of the fire. She was my bedroom kitty. First thing in the morning, she would demand attention for at least 15 minutes, and she would rain down terror if I refused. When she was purring and happy, she drooled, and she occasionally felt the need to groom me by grabbing hold of my head and licking my hair.
Bheartlebeay showed up hanging on the screen door of a friend’s house not long after we adopted Khatlypsoh. She brought him to me, and he was too cute to turn away. As he got older, he walked like a little bulldog–all bowlegged attitude. He talked a lot in liquid chatters, especially when he was ticked off about something—blahlahlhalhablahlhblahlala.
I am thankful for all of the moments I was lucky enough to spend with my loved ones, and, on this day, I honor them.