by Stacy Jacobson
GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) -- Gwen Ferguson returned to the apartment she called briefly home before a fire destroyed it Monday. Prior to the Goose Creek apartment she and her daughter spent six months living out of her car and with friends.
"Finding stability -- when we finally got that, it was, 'Okay, cool. We're set now,'" she said.
Ferguson and her daughter Victoria, 11, were homeless until they found an apartment in Goose Creek. It allowed Victoria get focused again on her studies and they could finally unpack their lives.
"After I got everything out of storage, I felt it was safe enough for me to bring it out. You're holding on to things for dear life because that's all you have," she said.
Now, they at least have their lives, after a fire ripped through six units at their Goose Creek complex Monday.
Ferguson had dropped Victoria off early at school for a field trip, when she got the call about the fire. She rushed home.
"When I got there I was just speechless," she said.
She saw not just her apartment, but also the life she'd worked so hard to build, burning to the ground. Her memories were singed in the wreckage.
"All the books we read together and laughed about were just little things that meant a lot," she said.
The Red Cross got a motel room for them for a few nights. But, after that, "we're back to square one," she said.
"I didn't sleep last night watching TV and laughing to myself to keep from crying about everything I've lost. There were some memorable things like pictures I know I'd never replace," Ferguson said.
The fire also claimed Victoria's favorite doll.
"She was like a part of my heart. She would just sew up the empty spaces," Victoria said.
But she found light in the ashy rubble in the form of the doll, named Angel.
Ferguson's laughter set an example for her daughter. Ferguson knew it would be important in the days to come.
"Who wants to see their mom breaking down, crying and hysterical? Nobody does because kids react to how their mothers feel," she said.
Somehow they'd make it through, she said.
"[It's] a sign of good things to come," Ferguson said.
Victoria said she attended bible school every week, and will continue to through their ordeal.
Ferguson said she was trained in nursing and would continue seeking employment as a nurse.
Friends and family have dropped off donations for the pair.