Second Edition

Packing For The Move

Image by Looking&Learning via Flickr

I have spent the day cleaning and packing. The house goes on the market this week and in realtor talk is in need of “de-cluttering”. Not there is much in my house anyway. We had only just moved in when my late husband was diagnosed with his illness and honestly, I only unpacked what I needed. The rest sat boxed up in the basement or forgotten in closets. We didn’t have much furniture because our previous home had been very small. We’d planned to update and refurnish but neither were ever accomplished. So the house is furniture light and toy infested for the most part.


Since last spring I have been purging in spurts. Preparing myself  for something is how a friend put it. “You’re getting ready for a move,” she told me. “I’ll bet within a year you will be somewhere else.” At the time I was still in that numbness that claimed me during the first six months, but I did have sense that something was coming. It drove me to find some way to move forward with me life as it simultaneously drove me crazy.


As I work my way through rooms and closets, I am discovering things I hadn’t known I had forgotten about, and it gets easier to find these memories and appreciate them without letting them throw me into a tailspin of sorrow. I don’t know if it is the same for Rob. He is still going through his “firsts” and I am into “seconds”. Odd notion, seconds of something you never wanted in the first place.


Another widow in my WET group, who is also selling her home, remarked to me at out meeting last night that she have wished she could just rent one of those large dumpsters and just empty the contents of her house into it. So many things have memories attached to them, but basically it comes down to just have too much stuff. I told her that in my next life I was just not going to buy things. Perfect the art of minimalism. I have fantasies of being able to fit everything I own in the back of one of those little UHaul trailers. Just a fantasy though.


The purging of material goods is upsetting my daughter more than it is me. Earlier in the week my oldest niece stopped by to pick up some of the baby items I still have and take them to an old high school friend of hers who recently had a baby. The girl needs pretty much everything by way of supplies, and I am happiest giving my possessions away these days, especially to those who are in more need than myself, because I don’t consider myself needy anymore.


After dealing with a teary, whiny child both last night and this morning, I come to find out from her that she thought I should have kept the baby things because “babies need a lot of things and can’t share my things”.  She still harbors the belief that Rob and I will give her the younger sibling she longs for quite desperately. Even after a long talk as we drove to the dress shop to try on her flower girl outfit, she refuses to believe that I am very serious when I say there will be no baby brother. Despite her bravado and her real desire to move to Canada and start a new life, she is just a little, little girl who thinks her daddy will not be able to find us if we move and that a baby would still be better than the big sisters she is getting.


Whereas my daughter mourns the items lost to our move, I would gladly dump nearly all we own at the local Goodwill. Clothes, dishes, kitchenware, furniture, everything. It is all part of the past. The past with Will. The past when the future was bright. The past of waiting while he died. The past year of grieving. I don’t live in any of those realities anymore.


Whenever I speak with someone about Rob, the wedding or going to live in Canada, the conversations reference words like “fairy tale” and “dream”. People will tell me that they are so happy for me because I deserve to have some happiness after all I have been through. I don’t see my life now as dream like or Disneyesque, and I know of people who suffered far more than I ever did and are not contemplating nearly as wonderful a future. I am not really much different than anyone else. We all have opportunities come up over the course of our lives and some are seized and others let by. The opportunity for love came along in Rob and for him in me and we were optimistic enough, and smart enough, to recognize it and accept.


And so now I am cleaning for a move.

The Canadian Border Services Agency at the Pac...

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I know many immigrants. They are primarily my students, and they hail from countries nearby like Mexico and from places far away such as Bosnia, Russia and Sudan. They have come to the United States both legally and illegally. Their reasons for coming are as varied as they are. Some came to be adopted. Others with their parents who were seeking jobs or relocating close to other family members. They are political refugees fleeing war torn homelands or seeking asylum from religious persecution. Above all they are kids who smile and laugh and do all the same things that kids do regardless of where they live on the planet.


I hear the rhetoric and read the news. Immigration is a hot topic in the upcoming presidential race. The president wants to create a guest worker program for those who are living and working here illegally. It is not an entirely altruistic gesture. Businesses benefit greatly from the use of cheap undocumented workers. I am not sure I completely go along with the argument that these workers are doing work that would go undone without them or that the low wages they are paid depresses wages for the average American citizen. There is probably more to it than that. I do know that there is no way to stop many of these people from coming here and there is definitely no practical way to send the millions who are here already back to their countries of origin. Giving these people status might keep them from being exploited to the extent that they are.


Ironically I find myself on the immigrant side of the question these days because I am marrying a Canadian and going to live there. Immigration, it seems, is not the simple thing that our President makes it out to be in his stump speeches. There might be a reason so many poor, under-educated people from south of our border chose to sneak past the Minutemen zealots who patrol their little stretches of border. It is not simple.


I have a college degree. Two in fact. And I am finding that the correct information pertaining to my situation to be not quite so comprehensible at times. It’s like anything else to do with government here, or anywhere I would imagine. Everyone reads the same websites and pamphlets and then feels free to interpret it. English is my native language but even reading the information myself doesn’t always answer questions, and I find myself more and more empathizing with illegal parents of my legally born students. Doing things by the book should mean that the book is easy to read and understand. How can people follow the rules if the rules change depending on who reads them and what kind of a day he/she is having?


It is exciting however. To go and live in another country. In the states we tend to annex Canadians whenever it is convenient for us. Generally we believe that they are just like us in all things and it is more than just a common language and ancestry that we share. But they are different it seems to me and it goes beyond the “politeness” that my fiance claims Canadians are famous for and this in spite of the fact that they “swear like truckers”. I don’t believe that Canadians feel themselves to be above the world or that there aren’t places beyond their border that are worth more than a cursory inspection on the way to Club Med or the nearest version of McDonalds.


One of the first things I am asked when I mention that I am going to live in Canada after Rob and I get married is if I am going to become a citizen and would that mean giving up my citizenship. I don’t know. About becoming a citizen. For the moment, I just want to live in the same place as my husband and be able to send my daughter to school, but I do know that if I should decide to do that someday I would retain my citizenship here as well. A curious thing that people should worry about that. As if they believe that giving it up would exile me to something worse than a third world existence.


The next question relates to the weather. Winter is a long season up in Northern Alberta and those who know me (and those who live in Canada and have only heard of me) wonder how I will adapt. And the answer is that I will. I have a lot of incentive after-all.


I have always marveled at those who could leave everything behind and start over. Envied them really. I have never been too sure that I had it in me to do anything like that, but in just a little more than two months I will be in Canada.


An immigrant.


"Under the horse chestnut tree", 1 p...

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I have never pretended that I ever wanted to parent on my own. As a matter of fact when I turned 31, I actually spent a few months comtemplating  single parenthood. Not because it was becoming a trendy thing, but because I really couldn’t imagine not having a child of my own. I came to the conclusion though that it was too daunting a task and much too unfair to a child to go it alone. 


Imagine my surprise when the fates went ahead and made a single mom of me anyway.


It isn’t that I am not good at it. I am commended right and left for what a wonderful child I have, but I often wonder if they are merely saying that and the unspoken part of the sentence is “for not having a father..” Because the truth is that my little girl is headstrong and spoiled. I have been too distracted and too tired and just too grief-stricken to hold the lines that needed holding as often as they should have been held.


Case in point is that she still sleeps with me. She has slept with me almost from the beginning. I am assured by other two parent families that children do sleep with their parents. It is more common than the majority let on and that eventually they all sleep on their own.


I feel like a failure nonetheless.


Neither I nor any of my siblings ever slept with our parents in their bed. Their bedroom as a matter of fact was strictly off-limits. I have memories of hovering in the doorway to their room and asking to be allowed in. Even in the middle of the night. Even if I was ill. I never even tried to broach the door if I had a bad dream. I would just pull the covers over my head and grip them tightly to prevent whatever monster I had dreamt of from gaining entry.


I bring this up only because I worry that this bad habit I have left to its own devices will become more of an issue once the summer comes and we are in Canada with Rob. He is patient when it comes to my parenting skills, but he is far and away the expert. It must take quite a toll on his inner Virgo to tactfully approach subjects concerning my daughter. 


We had a semi-conversation about sleeping arrangements tonight on the phone, and although he brought up nothing I hadn’t already thought about, I still felt bad afterwards because I know firsthand that no one was ever meant to do this by themselves.


I wonder more often than not who she would be if there had been two of us raising her.