Natalie turned one on April first. Just four short days before the fifth.It was any normal day for me and Natalie. We got up had our breakfast, and left to go get some bananas for her... Everything was peachy keen. No warning signs of trouble. No crazy gut feelings... Just normality.
We where returning home from our excursion out of the house, when we got a phone call. My cousin Tammie was crying so loudly I could barely understand her. She kept saying oh my god, oh my god. When she composed herself enough to talk she asked two questions. Where is Natalie? and Where is Billie (Natalie's grandmother who was in town visiting)? I answered that they where both in the truck with me. She began sobbing again. So, I handed the phone off to Billie to see if she could understand her. My mind raced. I couldn't help but to think about her two children. Scared for there lives I turned the emergency lights on in the truck and floored it.
Billie was sobbing in the passanger seat beside me. We came up on a truck that slammed on its breaks in front of us, as I narrowly avoided a severe accident... Billie began to scream. Our house was on fire. Billie's three chihuahuas where trapped inside. I pushed the truck a little more. It whined in distaste as I took a left turn way to fast.
When we arrived at my house a mear 3 minutes after recieving the call... Billie jumped from the vehicle before I even got the truck near stopped. She ran for her babies. My cousin tackled her to the ground and held her there. I jumped out and screamed, "did they get the babies?" Tammie shook her head. I will never forget her eyes. They where so red from sobbing I could see them from the 100ft I was away from them. I ran to Billie's aid. I looked up at the smoke coming from our home. Peaches, our lab mix was both inside and outside. I couldn't remember whether I had left her in that day or not. I began screaming for Roni, Natalie's dog. (My dad will tell you Roan is his, but Natalie will beg to differ) I found roan and looked up at the house. My first glance up and I could see Natalie's room on fire. I watched for a second as her crib began to fall. I almost lost my composure. I knew I had to remain calm. Billie and Natalie needed me to be calm.
I returned to my truck. Tammie and Billie had gotten Natalie out, How could I have forgotten she was in there... I grabbed Natalie and held on as tight as I could. Roni happily lounging at my feet. My aunt Cathy and uncle Leon offered to take Natalie for a little while, while me and Billie determined what we where going to do. As I handed Natalie's belongings over to Cathy... I almost started to cry realizing all Natalie had in the world was the 6 dispoables diapers, 1 package of wipes, 1 outfit, 1 sippy, 1 can of formula, and the clothes on her back. I composed myself, and handed Natalie off to her. Thanking her for helping with Nat.
I stood and watched as everything I owned turned to ashes in this firey void... The image of the fire ripping through Natalie's room and the living room I used as a bedroom still haunts my eyes when I try to sleep. Roni stayed with me and we watched the walls slowly fall. We watched everything powerless to stop it. We searched the yard tirelessly... Hoping that Peaches, Spike, Annabell, or Tinkerbell had escaped. Two of my neighbors have since stated that they have seen Peaches... but no one has been able to catch her. I'm not sure that they have. I think it is there minds hoping that she is out there somewhere alive. Hoping she didn't burn alive along with Spike, Anna, and Tink. The uncertainty of her survival has not been easy for me.
My friends Desiree, Maria, and my sister Leslie arrived at the fire and by the time I got to them... Everything was gone. My house stood as a pile of ashes and a concrete slab it once sat upon. A firefighter approached me asking about the water... All I could respond with.. Was how did this happen and where did it start. He montioned to Natalie's room and told me the hottest part of the fire was there. He thinks it started in her room. My heart sunk. I almost lost it. Thank god for Desi. I needed her there that second.
We regrouped and began talking about what to do from here. I noticed that the tire on my truck was completely flat... Billie gave me 100 dollars donated from an old man that lived near by. I do not know anything more about him than that. If I did, I would send him a thank you card. Me, Natalie, Desi, Leslie, and Maria left to go to Wal Mart. I completely lost it in there trying to buy Natalie something to sleep in... to eat... It didn't hit me that everything was gone... until it was time to replace things...
The outpour from the community, my family, and all of our friends has been tremendous! We have the best group of people surrounding us. Everyone has had open arms and hearts for us. I cannot believe the amount of kind hearted people in this world. As of today, 6 garbage bags of Natalie clothes have been donated, approximatly 11 cloth diapers, a few toys, books, dvds, a crib, highchair, and numerous other items have came to us. We still have a lot left to get, but are so greatful for all the help we have recieved. Words are just not enough to express our gratitude.
As of Thursday morning, me and Natalie have an established place to live.
Natalie spent the time recovering from the fire with her grandparents in Conway, AR. I am so anxious for tomorrow. I cannot wait till she comes home. Our long road isn't completely over just yet, but I wanted to share our story and our love with everyone.
*sorry if this is not so eloquent in typing. It's a pretty emotional subject still today.