The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

Tested By Fire (Parts 2 & 3 of ?) February 19, 2011

Hello all.  Today is another anniversary for me.  I didn’t realize the date until I was at work today.  In the middle of just another Saturday at work.  I was actually hiding in the bathroom checking Facebook on my phone, and I noticed the date, February 19th.  Two years ago today, my world broke.  Not to be dramatic or anything, but you know, it kinda was.  A week and two days after a tornado hit my hometown and killed 8 people on the same day that I found out I wasn’t going to have a job the next year. 


It had been a normal-ish day.  Read: a difficult day.  I was teaching, as usual.  It was almost the end of 6th hour.  Speech class.  We weren’t doing anything.  I think they were supposed to have been finishing an outline or something.  The principal’s secretary beeped in on the intercom and told me I had a phone call.  I went to the office to get the phone.  It was my husband, and his first words were, “You need to come home. The house is on fire.” 


My heart fell through the floor, and I said the dumbest thing ever:  “Are you kidding?!”  (Like he would joke about that, right?)  He assured me he was not kidding:  “No, I’m not kidding!  The house is on fire!” And I said “Well how bad is it?”  He replied, “I don’t know, but the firemen are here and there’s a lot of smoke.”  I told him I was on my way.  The secretary was sitting behind the counter looking at me, and I just looked down at her and told her my house was on fire and she said “Go. We’ll find someone to take your classes.”  I practically ran down the hall to my room, grabbed my purse out from under my desk.  I was hyperventilating, shaking, almost crying.  Things were falling out of my purse and I just grabbed them and stuffed them in the bag.  One of the kids asked me what was wrong and I said “Don’t worry about it.”  In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t been so snippy, but at the time, I think I didn’t want them to know or something.  I’m not sure.  I tore out of the room without a backward glance, ran out the side door, threw myself into the car and flew out of the parking lot throwing gravel. 


My school was about 10 miles from my home, and my normal 15 minute trip probably took 5.  I could see from down the street, there were several fire trucks surrounding my house, and I knew it was bad.  I pulled up and parked on the street in front of the house.  The firemen were everywhere, but it looked like they were finished.  The front door was standing open.  I think they were dragging a big hose out and rolling it up.  I walked up, and they said I could go in.  RMB and I went in together.


This house has been mine since it was built.  It was built especially for me.  Me and the kids and their father.   I was there when it was nothing but a concrete slab.  During construction, I crawled on my hands and knees and scraped plaster and wall texture off the floors, inch by inch, with a razor blade in the dead of winter.  I picked out the colors of the tile and the cabinets and the brick and the shingles on the roof.  The kids’ dad and I.  We were blessed to get this house because he has a CDIB card.  A certificate of degree of Indian bloodChickasaw, to be precise.  We entered the program at just the right time and we were able to get a new house, built on the lot we picked, with the colors we picked. 


When I walked in the front door of the home I’d lived in for 13 years, first with The Dufus, and then alone with my kids, and then with RMB, all I could see was black.  The walls, the floor, every surface, every object in the house was blackened.  One living room wall and the door leading to the hall were charred.  The firemen had torn into that wall and chunks of drywall were scattered in the floor around it.  The living room windows were blown out from the heat.  The living room ceiling fan was drooping, melted, toward the floor.  The back door was open, and the remains of the couch had been thrown outside.  Most of the things in the living room had been heat damaged.  The entertainment center, the computer desk.  My laptop that Mom got me when I started back to college.  The digital camera she got me for my graduation.  The TV, VCR, the kids’ collection of Disney movies.  The flower arrangement that was the casket spray on my first baby’s casket. The coats in the entry closet.  All blackened and melted.  The smell was overwhelming, nauseating.


I called my mom and dad to tell them what had happened.  I might have done that when I first got out of the car.  I don’t remember.  They were at our church building, sorting donated clothes and items that we had been collecting for the tornado victims.  School was almost out, and Mom went to go get the kids and bring them.  RMB and I had gone back outside, because we couldn’t take the sight, the smell, and the lingering heat.  Mom pulled up behind my car and she and the kids jumped out.  They walked across the yard, Mom hanging on to them, holding their hands, even though hers were shaking uncontrollably.  I walked in with them.  At first they just looked around in shock, then finally they started to cry.  Even RMB.  It was the third house fire he’d been through, and he said he didn’t think he could take it.  I did my best to comfort all of them, tried to tell them it was ok, that it was ok to be sad, and we’d get through it.  They couldn’t stand to stay in there very long, and we had to leave anyway.  The house was unliveable and there was no power and no water.  We knew Mom and Dad would let us stay with them, even though the kids’ dad and his wife and daughter were already staying there, since their house got ruined in the tornado. 



We went to the church building to look through the donated tornado clothes and find something for the kids to wear to sleep in and to school the next day.  Mom and Dad’s house was now our house, and would be, indefinitely.  We were pretty sure the Chickasaw housing people would rebuild the house, but we had absolutely no clue how long it would take.  At the start, I was hoping for two or three months.  I was being optimistic. 


We went to Mom and Dad’s and tried to get settled in- just one big happy family.  My parents, me, my husband of only 21 months, my kids, their father, his wife, their toddler daughter.  Like a reality tv show from hell.  I only took a few days off from school.  Being me, I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone too much.  In the next few days and weeks, the rest of the family set about trying to remove everything from the house so they could gut it and rebuild.  I couldn’t be there.  I was stuck at school, trying to put on a normal face, trying to teach English and Speech to kids who couldn’t have cared less, all the while knowing it didn’t matter, because I wouldn’t be there the next year.  Meanwhile, everybody else was going through MY house, throwing out MY things, MY memories, without me.  I know, it was my choice to stay at school, but I didn’t feel at the time that I had a choice. 


Over time, we emptied the house and the reconstruction began.  Living at Mom and Dad’s was challenging at best.  After a few weeks, the kids’ dad and his family got some relief money from FEMA and moved to another town where they could find a house.  Things got easier then, but by that time, RMB had left.  He and my dad had a difference of opinion one night, but that was just a convenient excuse.  He went to stay with his mother, and remains there to this day, two years later.  We’re still legally married.  I plan to remedy that with this year’s tax return. 


So here we are.  Two years later.  The house was rebuilt, better and more beautiful than before.  Again, we got to pick the colors.  Wall paint, trim, carpet, tiles, kitchen laminate, everything.  Up until it was almost finished, RMB was going to join us when we moved back in, but at the last minute he decided he wasn’t coming back. 


But we’ve survived.  Exactly 6 months after the tornado, we moved back into the house that was cleansed by fire.  Our lives were a literal mess before the fire.  A literal disaster.  The house was continually a filthy wreck.  My new marriage was a complete disappointment.  The fire took care of all that.  A clean, fresh start.  The kids and I are here now, alone again, and we’re happy.  We’ve been tested and come out on the other side, stronger and better than ever before.  Tested.  And passed.


Until next time,



2 Responses to “Tested By Fire (Parts 2 & 3 of ?)”

  1. Oh my goodness! I am so glad to hear that things have gotten better for you…that sounds like a difficult year. My mother-in-law calls that a Period of Growth.

    • LenaDeeAnne Says:

      Hi! Boy, you’re not kidding! Sometimes I think, “Geez, why did I have to go through all that just for a little growth?! Couldn’t the Universe have found a way to teach me that stuff without all the hell?” But then I realize that it just usually works like that. We learn our most valuable lessons in our hardest times. I can’t say I’ve figured it ALL out- I still haven’t been able to go back to teaching. I’ve kicked it around, but in the end, I think my whole view of teaching was colored by the difficulties of that year, and not with pretty colors. The economy has made it hard to find a teaching job around here, but even if there were dozens, I’d still be scared to go back. It was my first year, but hopefully it won’t be my last. I just have to figure out where I belong!

      Thanks so much for reading! Come back soon…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s