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You hear about people losing homes to fires all the time on the news, but you never hear about how the people are doing afterward.

I lost my home December 3rd, 2013, and I feel as if my whole life has been stolen from me. I’m having a hard time carrying on. This can’t be my life. I sleep maybe four or five hours a night, then I wake with the worst feeling of despair, thinking about the things we lost.

The fire took my 10 cats, that I loved dearly. Two may be missing – I go back to the property and search every evening, but have had no luck. Our home was in a rural area, and I have posters hung on poles nearby, but there are just farmers and some homes in the area, miles away from any vets or pet stores.

I’m grieving my cats, but also my home. All of my things are gone. People tell you it’s just material things, and you can get new, but I don’t want new. I was happy with my old things. I can’t get back the afghan my grandma made me, or the yearbooks that were signed by my best school friend, who died last January.

I’m stuck in a rental home until we get our land cleared and a new home. I’m surrounded by unfamiliar people, things, even different clothes. We even have a different car now because our car is what started the fire. It caught fire under the hood and spread to the garage door. I ask myself questions like, “Where did my life go?” or just “Why?” or “How are all my cats gone all at once?”

Our house looks as if it were hit with a bomb. I didn’t know the metal in your windows could melt and twist like that. Firefighters put a huge hole in our bedroom window. The things I had hanging on the wall there are gone. Even the pot of chili I had on the stove is gone. Papers my son brought home from school that I had on the fridge aren’t there now. My son’s toys and the toy box just melted all together.

I’ve had my piano since I was 7 and began taking lessons. The top has been taken off. The varnish looks like it melted. Some keys are sticking up. I’ll probably need a new one.

All the ceiling has been torn off. A lot is just hanging down. The study above the garage is just a burnt black room with no roof. It rains and snows in my study. Pages from my books burnt and laying in the yard. All my music melted.

Only one of the arms and the metal bed springs are left of the wooden daybed where the cats loved to lay. My telescope that I put together myself is gone – it was mostly plastic and wood. The whole place is beyond repair. It has to be knocked down. That brings up another whole set of emotions. Ten years of life there turned to rubble and going to be discarded in a dump.

I was having panic attacks. Self-talk is helping, but I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.  I’ve never been so depressed and anxious in my life. I used to love my life. Just five days before it happened, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family. I felt so blessed to be surrounded by all I loved, and in abundance. It was all taken from me in 3 hours. It still feels like a strange dream. I wonder if I will ever feel happy again, if I’ll ever even smile.

The days are long. I always used to be busy, so they used to speed by, but now I plod through the day at this rental home doing a little cleaning just to get the day over with.

I’m not myself. I don’t feel like interacting with anyone. I can’t afford counseling. I try to journal and read self-help books, but I still feel so dead inside.

One thing I’ve learned from this already is who is on my side and who’s not. My relations to various people have changed. I’ve had to distance myself from some family members who were hurtful or whose words just make me feel worse. Many people don’t seem to understand just how huge this loss is. It’s loss at multiple levels, pet loss, home loss, things that were special, my daily routine is gone. It’s a huge change.

To say it’s all unreal is an understatement. I don’t know what the future holds. We’ve picked out a double wide home already and have much of the paper work done to get it. We just have to wait on the destruction of our old house. We’re having a hard time finding a local company to do that. And as much as I hate it, it has to be done. I will take my sister’s cat and am thinking about a kitten to keep it company, but in my heart right now I’m just wanting the ones I lost back. I don’t think anything would give me any happiness now but to get my two missing cats back.

For now, I’m just trying to get through each day, one day at a time. I don’t know how I’m going to pick myself up from this, but I have to move on somehow. Each day is a day further away in time, and hopefully a day closer to getting my life back together again.