Saturday, August 17, 2013


In January, Shawn started his new job.  I resigned from my new job, facing both a cross-country move and an unidentified illness.

In February my illness received a name:  Lupus.  We were not sure what that meant.  I started medication, and Shawn encouraged me to sleep in late, bringing me hot tea in bed at 8:30 or 9 each morning.

I don't remember much of March.  I think I did a lot of meaning to get the house ready to sell, and not really making much progress.  David had his senior recital and I made cupcakes.  We (and by "we" I mean Shawn) replaced the nasty carpet in our bedroom with prefinished oak, and it was gorgeous.

The beginning of April, we went to Illinois to look for a house.

The end of April, we went to Colorado to see my nephew get married.

In May we finally got our house on the market and sold it in 3 days (praise the Lord!).

In mid-May, David graduated from Syracuse University where he was named a University Scholar and gave the speech for the College of Visual and Performing Arts.  It was during these ceremonies that our realtor texted us the particulars of our house sale.

We then began to negotiate for a house in Champagne.  Nothing came together.  With a closing date of July 22 on our NY house (which turned out not to be accurate, but we didn't know that then), we got itchy to get something done.  And by itchy, I mean we were plagued by nervous stomach.  And then some.

I lose track of the time-frame, but David and I went to Minnesota to pay a visit to his grandparents before he entered medical school and to capitalize on the Minnesota wedding reception his cousin was holding after the Colorado wedding, a chance to see a lot of relatives.  This was at the end of May.

Shawn and I also made another flying trip to Illinois to look at more houses.  I am not sure when this happened.  Memorial Day, perhaps.

Jonathan graduated from Liverpool High School at the end of June.  Laura and Matthew came to Syracuse for the event, as did the grandparents Carpenter.

On July 6, we threw a graduation party for Jonathan.  It went astonishingly well, considering the circumstances.  I will be forever grateful for that weekend.  All six of us were together: Shawn, me, Shannon, David, Laura and Jonathan.  Just us, but all of us, intact at 8402 Sugar Pine one last time.  I had left the house "together" for the occasion.  I remember people commenting at the party, "You still have pictures on your walls."  Yes.  Yes, I did.  And I meant to, but I also paid for it.

Somewhere in there, we bought a house we had never seen.  Oh well.  We just did.

After the party, we began to tear the house apart, and mostly what I remember is driving to the Salvation Army and the dump, over and over.  I lived those weeks with a constant lump in my throat and tossed fitfully in my bed each night, my hungry eyes grabbing for every last possible glimpse of anything familiar and grieving as the house-scape disintegrated in front of them.

On July 19, Shawn and I drove to Illinois again, to close on the house.  I saw it for the very first time.  The short upper cabinets in the kitchen and the oddly protruding soffits made me feel as though someone were pushing down uncomfortably on the back of my head.  The total absence of a pantry, the corroding bright brass faucet at the kitchen sink and the fact that every sink in the house needed replacing caused a rising panic in my heart.  I have a memory of standing across the kitchen from our realtor, feeling the oppression of those soffits bending me forward, trying to swallow, willing myself not to burst into tears as she earnestly inquired, "Do you love it?"  This is not even taking into account the hours of weeding out gargantuan weeds that had appeared in the landscaping outdoors, a foreboding sight to a Lupus victim.  It was my brother's birthday that day, but I was lost in my own misery and never wished him a happy return.

It required more than all the value of our house in NY (after realtors' fees) and our 20 acres of beautiful land to purchase this place, and there is so much to do.  Housing prices in Syracuse are so unbelievably low; financially, it is a terrible place to move out of.  But there was no time to think about that.  We just signed over everything and drove 12 hours back to Syracuse where we had to hurriedly get ready for the packers.

I am not going to write about the packers again, or even link to a former entry about that.  If you are morbidly curious, you can find it yourself.  They packed on the 22nd and 23rd, loaded the truck on the 24th.  I am so thankful for people's kindnesses.  Some kind friends helped us clean the house behind the movers.  And that night, some kind neighbors fed us dinner and some other kind (and brave) friends hosted us and our dogs for the night.  In the morning we loaded everything that was left into our three remaining vehicles (we had donated Jon's van to the Rescue Mission).  Everything that was left included the dogs and the dog crate, which Jon and I had to take in the Odyssey.  And just like that, we set out, my men and me, 12 hours across the country.  I got to have Jon, and he drove most the way (maybe all the way?).  Shawn and DJ each had to stick it out alone.

We drove 12 hours the 25th, and the moving truck arrived at 9 am on the 26th, so the 26th was a full day of unloading everything we had not thrown out into a house that is smaller than the one we had before.  It does not fit very well.  We are still trying to figure it out.  There will be another garage sale, and probably more trips to a dump, if we can find one.

During the first week after we arrived, we tried to get our bearings while still getting David ready to go to medical school in North Carolina.  He left August 2.  I don't even know what day of the week that was.  He drove off in his little Corolla, all loaded down with all of his earthly belongings, or at least the ones he could find that the packers had not demolished.  His departure left a shockingly quiet emptiness from which I may never recover.  Jon was in social withdrawal, and by withdrawal I don't mean that he was socially withdrawn.  I mean "withdrawal" in the sense of a bad drug withdrawal, when the thing (in this case, friends) has been suddenly removed and there is an unbearable craving for it.

On August 4, Matthew brought Lu back (back?) from Cleveland where she had done her summer internship.  Their arrival was greatly cheering.  Lu brings sunshine most places she goes, and Matthew is always both uplifting and comforting.  We took some breaks from unpacking and just worked on living for a few days, exploring the park in our backyard.  Laura liked the house, which was a big encouragement to me, and helped me also to like it better.  We can make it nice.  As she says, "It has really good bones."  All it takes is money... all it takes is money.  Money and energy and imagination and a lot of cleaning up after projects.  Sigh.

On August 7, Matthew left, and on August 8 Shawn and I drove to NC for David's white coat ceremony which is a beautiful and stirring charge to new medical students to remember the humanity of their patients and to be good and kind doctors in the future.  They are so idealistic at this point, I hate to see it crushed after life happens to them.

While in NC (August 9 and 10), we procured a bed and other necessities for David, and then we drove home on the 11th.  Time to get Lu and Jon ready for college... Lu, facing her fourth year, was fairly good-to-go and completely self-sufficient.  Jon was not dialed in.

Wednesday night (August 14), the night before we took off for PA, at about 8:30 pm, Jon told us that he needed some after-shave.  We set out in the car for the Walgreens that is five minutes away.  On our way, Jon said, "By the way, did you ever buy me my refrigerator for my dorm?"  No, somehow I had forgotten to do that.  And so we headed home, got the van, drove to the city where there is a Walmart, and bought him a refrigerator and socks and underwear because he said he needed them.

I will not detail what else he did not have.  I just pray.  Prayer is a very good thing, a very good thing.  On a bright note, it only took about 15 minutes to move all his stuff into his dorm room when we got there.

We drove out on the 15th and home on the 16th, eight hours each way, and we left our two younger kids there, in PA.  My youngest child, dropped off early for marching band, probably with less than half of what he actually needs, unceremoniously dumped onto a campus that is not yet bustling... and I will be too tired to go back next week for move-in day and to hear Lulubelle speak at the big "Welcome to College" ceremony because she is the senior chair of the orientation board.

On the way home, I sent Shannon a bunch of texts, telling her I love her, because I do and because she always answers texts the fastest.

So now we are here, just the two of us and our dogs, and I am too tired to take a shower.  I have been lying on my bed for most of the day, because when I try to get up and walk around, I get really dizzy.  Shawn says I am dizzy because I have not eaten lunch, but I am too dizzy to make lunch.  And I cannot imagine what to make for dinner, for just two of us.  We have never been alone like this.  Maybe for an evening, but never like this.

1 comment:

Hope T. said...

I'm glad you're back, Ruth.

Posts like this are wonderful because your love for your children and theirs for you shines through. And that love is absolutely everything that matters in this world.

(I have to add that I am envisioning how quickly Jon will make friends at college. He will probably have 300 new friends by Monday.)