4 months ago, my beautiful grandmother was dying and the world as I knew it was slowly beginning to unravel. I started a blog piece shortly after her death on April 19th about her being a constant force in my life, but have not completed it; however, the idea of this ‘constant’ in my life resonates. I have lost one of my constants and considering the state of the rest of my life, this has resulted in an extremely difficult time for my family and I.
4 months later, I am experiencing a quick weekend of reprieve while visiting the UP and need to write, hoping to get some perspective on this difficult time–or at least process it a bit.
The last time I was here with Terry was the 3rd week of April. That week in April was Chicago Public School’s very late spring break and it was still really chilly in the Keewenaw Peninsula–there were even snow patches back in the woods!
While my physical health was in a really good place and we had just started water practices with ROW back in Chicago, other aspects of my life weren’t in such great shape. My work as an IB Coordinator at a Chicago neighborhood school was in a super stressful period (not to mention there was the threat of an extended strike which had loomed over the whole school year–that was looking seriously imminent in May) that a week’s vacation didn’t erase. Meanwhile, Terry’s freelancing creative work was drying up at the same time his focus on a new career direction in urban farming was heating up leaving me feeling that I was carrying way too much weight. This was the same week that Grams and Prince both passed and I will always remember mourning my grandmother to a Prince soundtrack (thank you Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current) at a cabin in Michigan’s North Woods (on the property of a Ukrainian Catholic Monastery). And strangely enough, since we did not have a funeral for my grandmother, mourning Prince with so many others helped ease the pain of losing her.
After that trip, Terry and I decided to move back into our condo when our apartment lease expired July 1st. After 7 years of our in-laws being amazingly awesome tenants, it seemed like the fiscally responsible decision to move back into our own place. The downside is that the condo is smaller than both our apartment in New Orleans and in Chicago and doesn’t have a park right outside the door. Besides being a smart financial move, however, we have a deck that we love and a full size washer/dryer again which makes me surprisingly happy. The decision was also made to sell the Cottage this summer. Yep, the one on Lake Charlevoix that has been my grandmother’s for over 60 years, that has been a geographical and family constant for my whole life. The place where I learned to swim and spent numerous summers. A part of my Home Triangle when we headed home from New Orleans each summer. On paper this sounds all factual and straightforward. Emotionless. No turmoil. All good and a done deal. However, these two decisions have created an immense amount of havoc in our lives. Immense. Frankly, I thought Summer 2009 when we moved to New Orleans or Summer 2014 when we moved back to Chicago were stressful, but I think this may have topped it, hands down.
I posted this to Facebook on July 6th:
Yikes!!!! What an insane 3 weeks!!!! Painting our condo; finishing the 2015-16 school year; moving and packing and moving and packing and moving our stuff back into the Condo–or into storage units (yes, plural); calling on the help of family, friends, and awesome movers; dealing with a landlord who turned ugly; a last 4th of July at the Cottage; little sleep; starting to teach summer school; trying to fit in row practices to train for this weekend’s Sprints in Chicago; and resolving the albatross of a certain hutch we had acquired (can we say circular saw?). Now to actually unpack! Our condo looks like a Rubic’s Cube! I apologize to those of you who have reached out and I haven’t returned messages…
The post catches some of the frantic-ness of Move 2016, but doesn’t capture the heartbreak of going up to the Cottage Memorial Day Weekend where I saw my parents for the first time since my grandmother had died and the truth hit home that Grams wasn’t going to be making her annual trek north any longer. It doesn’t mention that my mom was driving my parent’s minivan over to UHaul when they were in Chicago, helping with the move, and was hit by a semi-truck at the corner of 51st and Halsted, luckily only doing enough damage to destroy a rear tire and require body work–which they were able to have done after driving back to Michigan. It doesn’t mention that Terry and I really came together as a team with the final push of moving out of the apartment or the sheer exhaustion that we have experienced. Nor does it mention the drama of this year’s Cottage fireworks catching the last section of the dock on fire! Seriously?????!!!!
4 weeks later, summer school/credit recovery is done, I managed to compete in this year’s Sprints without doing anything calamitous and Terry and I have been back to the Cottage twice to help go through things, which is not an easy task on any level. Our Condo is slowly starting to come together and this past week finally felt that we had hit a turning point–even though we were only back in Chicago for 60 hours–where I feel that we will be able to fit back into this space of ours. Oh, and did I mention that one of Terry’s oldest Detroit friends is doing a contract gig in Chicago and staying in our office for a couple of months? How there is actually room for him–or that this even happened in the first place–is beyond me…Like I said, though, this week finally felt as if we can carve out a comfortable place again in our condo.
Needless to say, there has been much happening in my world that has felt way out of control as of late and we aren’t quite to a place of stability, but I am grateful for this weekend to finally get a chance to hit the pause button. I know from rowing that I need to just keep paddling, trusting that the next stroke–or the one after that–will be better. I know from Aikido that I need to take the crazy energy and use it to my advantage, absorbing what I need to and letting the rest go. From sailing I know to wear a life jacket attached to a line as well as to baton down the hatches during a storm, trusting that things will calm down when the storm passes. From blogging the past 3 and a half years, I know that I gain perspective, understanding and support from the blogosphere and that writing this post is an invaluable way to spend personal time. I still feel like I’m trying to gain control of my life with the Fred Flintstone braking method–and it’s not working particularly well–but at least I see the humor in the analogy and can write about it!