Legacy of Love and Pain
It's mid-November, and a slight chill hangs in the air. Hudson wears a sweater. Because of her burns, she will always struggle with her body temperature. She will be prone to feeling cold. No longer able to produce sweat, she will overheat easily in the spring and summer. Her skin will never produce oil, so she'll have to moisturize with unscented lotion several times a day.
Hudson spends every weekday in October in physical and occupational therapy, working to be a full-time mom again. LoMonaco says that's a possibility after more surgeries to restore function lost to scarring, such as motion in her elbows.
For now, Tate is her daughter's caregiver. She bathes, dresses and cooks for Hudson, who can't lift heavy objects or raise her arms above 90 degrees. She shaves the badly burned crown of Hudson's head daily so the hair won't become ingrown.
Seven months after the attack, Tate and Hudson return to Apartment 195. The air is stale and musty.
The blue duffle bag still sits on the kitchen table, along with eight wooden matches. The milk jug once half-filled with gasoline is gone, confiscated by police.
Hudson's tracks can be seen on the grimy floor, where she slipped in gasoline while trying to escape. Two burnt matches -- the ones that set her ablaze -- lie on the floor near the front door. She was that close to getting away.
Soot marches up the stairwell below a picture of Malcolm X, mapping Hudson's panicked flight upstairs with her ankles tied. The gold curtains in the living room are singed.
Hudson shows no emotion as she tours the downstairs of the three-bedroom apartment and details her struggle.
"I don't think I could ever stay here now," she says finally. "I just stand and look around. ... (The fire) just plays in my head, over and over."
For now, Hudson stays at her mother's. She doesn't go outside much. Twice she went to the mall, but people stopped and gawked. Cosmetic surgery, which will include attaching prosthetic ears, is still many months down the road.
But the holidays and happier times are just weeks away. Angela's 38th birthday is Dec. 23, and Angel will turn 15 on Jan. 30.
She's thinking about dating.