Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Fire 10 Years Later

This a statue on an angel Bill gave me for my birthday October 2013

Recently here in Chicago there was an apartment fire that ironically took place in the same building that I lived in when I first moved to Chicago in 1980. This caught my attention because it has been ten years since a mysterious fire devastated mine and Kevin's apartment in January 2004. In another twist of irony our apartment was right up the street from this other fire that just occurred a week ago.

I cannot begin to adequately express how all encompassing a fire can be to one's life, impacting not only where you were living but also relationships with other people either directly or indirectly. As a direct consequence of the fire that Kevin and I endured, our roommate arrangement came to an abrupt end and our friendship suffered greatly. Kevin ended up moving to Florida and living with one of his sisters.

Regretably year and a half after the fire, in June 2005, Kevin passed away from liver cancer. I never got to see Kevin again, this has troubled me for years. I take some comfort in knowing he did receive a card I sent to him while he was in the hospital and the card expressed my feelings of love for him as my best friend for twenty five years.

Immediately after the fire I was overwhelmed with the damage the fire had caused and how I was going to pick up the pieces and move forward. Bill was instrumental is so many ways in helping me not only physically move what belongings of mine were salvageable but also being a rock of stability on which I could lean for emotional support. I will never forget walking into that severely burnt apartment and immediately bursting into tears. I called Bill and he was beacon of hope armed with a plan about how to approach my situation systematically, allowing me to address specific tasks and accomplish  short term goals. The first of which was to move enough of my belongings into my new apartment to be able to sleep there that very night.

Within a week of moving into my new apartment I suffered a blood clot in my right leg. I was hospitalized for 10 days and fortunately the clot was able to be dissolved. I am simplifying this ordeal, it was still a very involved set of procedures in which I suffered a great deal of physical pain. It was probably the complete set of circumstances of helping move heavy furniture across the street and up the stairs, coupled with the emotional distress of the entire fire fiasco that led to the blot clot.

The beginning of 2004 was a very difficult time for me in a myriad of ways. I had lost a great deal of my belongings from the  fire, I had a huge fight and separation from my best friend of over twenty five years and ended up in the hospital with a blood clot.

One of the reasons I am recounting these events is to let my readers know that no matter how hopeless a series of events may seem to you as you are living them, there always remains the glimmer of hope for a brighter future. I have lived through many difficult times in my life; the loss of many close friends, the loss of my artwork through another person's act of violence, the loss of my artwork through a fire, many operations, and the loss of both of my legs, one at a time.

Ten years after this fire, I am here, I am well, and I am thankful. I am thankful I am here to share my story with you and to offer you sympathy, compassion, and understanding for whatever loss you may be suffering today or tomorrow. Even though circumstances in our lives change, it is our responsibility to change along with them. I found through my life experiences that when things seem to be overwhelming, it is best to address one issue at a time.

I have dealt with the loss of many close friends by remembering the good times and for me, remembering that although people are not here in a physical sense, they are here with us spiritually; that has brought me comfort through the years. I dealt with the fire by focusing on getting my life back on track, it helps if you have someone in your life to help direct you and assure you things will be ok. I had Bill and his being here for me has helped me immeasurably.

The loss of a limb or in my case both lower limbs has been by far the most life changing event of my life thus far. I made a conscious decision after the loss of my first leg that I was not going to let this occurrence ruin my life. I was not going to allow a terrible loss dictate my future happiness. I have stuck to my resolve and although it has been quite difficult, I always remain optimistic about my future.

Everyone deals with loss differently but that does not mean you cannot deal with it successfully. I feel the magnitude of my limb loss everyday, but it has, in it's own unique way, changed me for the better. It has made me a more aware and thankful person in many ways. Sometimes when change occurs, those changes that on the surface appear to be for the worse, can in other areas of your life, make you grow as a person.

If you find yourself going through a really difficult time, remember that it will, in most instances, not last forever. If it does last forever, every person has within themselves the capacity to overcome adversity. I send my love and hope for your future happiness no matter how devastating your situation may seem at the present moment.

The picture posted at the beginning of this blog post has no real relevance to what I have written, but I like it and it is a beautiful statue and that is reason enough for me to share it with you.

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