relocating for a LDR

Trusty Uhaul Truck

Image by Open Wheel via Flickr

The last tote was strapped to the topper of the Avalanche at about 7PM this evening. My best friend, Vicki, arrived with her youngest daughter and helped Rob and I load up the remaining items to be sold (or given away) into her van. The house was empty of everything but the few pieces of furniture that will go to my “niece” to furnish her new apartment next month. It was time to leave.




Time to say goodbye.


I went through the house alone. I had to close the garage door and leave the opener on the counter for the new owners. There were two openers. I think the other got packed. Next time we are hiring this packing crap done.


The last time the house was this empty was the day we moved in. Fours years ago in exactly two months from today. Four years ago. Katy was eleven months old. I was packing another house. Will was dying.

I can’t say that I will miss the house. I have said already it has few memories that one could call happy, and it was my prison for a long time. Still, it hurt to say goodbye. And it was silly really because like the hospice and the cemetery, Will was not there. I could hear him admonish me in a tone of voice that ranged somewhere between patience and exasperation, reminding me.


Outside and heading towards the truck and U-Haul with tears still streaming, Rob met me with an already sweat soggy shoulder and a strong, comforting embrace. Everything was still as it was a moment earlier and yet everything was all right as well.


Goodbye house. Goodbye Des Moines. But not goodbye to Will. After all, like Elvis, he had already left the building.

Basement Flooding

Image by CR Artist via Flickr

The biblical rains have ceased for the time being but have left their mark upon my basement. In the three and a half years we have lived in this house, the basement has never even gotten damp. Is this a side effect of putting a for sale sign in the yard? Related perhaps to the ant invasion in the master bathroom a week earlier? Signs? Tests? A bit of both I think.

Since last fall m emotions have ridden fairly close to the edge. As I told a coworker , I can still hit fast balls…..out of the park even, but curve balls are not my forte anymore. I don’t lament that fact. There was a time, a long time, when I was the go-to of nearly everyone I know. I haven’t the strength or frankly the interest in solving other people’s problems. My own life is challenging enough.

When I made the decision to let go of my problem-solver/rock status, the ripple effect, apart from confused family and friends, was that I would break down a bit more easily in the face of my own problems. I am not the type to cry in front of people. I don’t like people to know how I am feeling, but suddenly the smallest thing, if it was unexpected, could reduce me to a puddle. For I while, I didn’t care. It was cathartic. Now though it is past time to rein it in a bit and re-establish my personal load limit.

When the cable went out Easter weekend and five days and three missed or cancelled service appointments later the voice on the other end of the phone informed me it would be two more days, I just melted and pulled the “widow card”.  Not one of my finer moments and judging from Rob’s,

“You cried?”

response insinuating that perhaps I was overreacting, I realized that I needed some perspective. The ant invasion was the first test of this new resolve to take life’s spontaneous eruptions in stride. I met it. Barely.

The flooded basement arrived simultaneously with a realtor and a perspective buyer and not a clue of how to find a plumber when every plumber in the area was wading around in someone else’s basement. I hired the first one who called back and promised to come out before the day was over.

The basement was a test and a sign. God doesn’t not send gentle signs when you are procrastinating. He sends signs that are unmistakably tinted with annoyance or exasperation depending on the length of time you have been ignoring things. The sump pump failure did not approach Jonah and the whale status but it was a definite “Try to ignore this, kid” tone.

I took the hint. I am moving to be with Rob in 8 weeks and honestly haven’t really started packing and accomplished the most minimal sorting and tossing. The main reason is that I am tired of moving a light speed and even more tired of doing all the work required to maintain that level of velocity. But I get it. Nothing is going to get done unless I am doing it, for the most part on my own though Rob has arranged his schedule to be here again in May for a week to help.

I give a lot of advice these days but sometimes don’t pay as much attention to my own life and how what I am saying relates to me. I sent a PM recently to a widow  who wanted to know if two years out was too soon to consider dating. I replied to her by saying that there are no chances in life, only opportunities and we choose to make something of them or we don’t. I have been fortunate and Rob came into my life. We have the opportunity to  move forward together and share life, but it’s not a freebie. There is work involved and for me right now some of that work is cleaning and sorting and packing.

Got all this from a flooded basement. Just as good as tea leaves.

"The Garden of Eden" by Lucas Cranac...

Image via Wikipedia

Most married couples have this romantic expectation of spending eternity together. Buried side by side. Reuniting in heaven. It’s the kind of thing Hollywood makes movies about and Celine Dion warbles at us. But, what if there isn’t an eternity. No physical possibility of lying side by side. And heaven isn’t anymore real than the Garden of Eden?

Something I read on the YWBB got me thinking again about being buried. Someday. After I am dead. I have always maintained that my daughter should be the one to decide the final resting place of my earthly remains. Where I am will matter most to her after all. But, that was before Rob. Where I rest would matter to him as well now.

Dee’s father is buried in a little Catholic cemetery in a little town in Iowa where the bar that he played pool league out of is located. Will didn’t want his ashes scattered to the wind, even if I could have found a way to place him in the end zone at Heinz’s Stadium, because he didn’t want to be ashes. He wanted to be buried. He never specified where though he ruled out a few places most emphatically. Like Pella, where both of his parents are from and his father is buried. He hated Pella, and he didn’t much care for his father either. And Norwalk. The bedroom community he grew up in and considered a splat on the map for the most part – though I suspect he knew if he was buried too close to where his mother lived, she would cover his grave in death swag and bling. He loathed the idea of becoming a shrine like the ones you see along the side of the road.

Economically, a full burial was never an option I could promise him. It was partly luck that I learned of St. John’s and was able to afford to intern his ashes there. His name alone is on the headstone though there is room for mine, I suppose if I planned to stay in Iowa. But that was never the plan, even before Rob, I didn’t see myself here in another year or maybe two.

Will believed that a person’s soul went to heaven when he/she died. He believed that you met God. He told me once that he it would “suck” having to wait all those years for me because he knew I was going to be very old when I died. I told him not to worry that he would have my second husband to keep him company. He didn’t think that was funny, but I never could make him laugh. “You’re just not that funny, babe,” he used to tell me. Ironically, Rob holds much the same opinion of me.

I didn’t save any of Will’s cremains. I buried the container unopened. I literally buried it. With no money it was just me, Katy and the sexton standing over this little hole in the ground. The sexton, a very nice old man who had showed me his own plot the day I went to pick out Will’s, recited the “Our Father” and I placed the urn in the ground myself. I am a bit sorry now that I don’t have some of the ashes to take with me to Canada, but there is nothing to do about it now. As I told Rob when he asked, I am fairly certain there are laws against digging up your dead husband’s urn simply because you’re moving to another country, but to his credit, Rob offered to sneak out there with me under cover of darkness and help me dig Will up. Being arrested for unearthing my dead husband’s remains was not high on my bucket list, so I declined.

Truthfully, I feel only a sense of failure when I visit his grave anymore. It will actually be a relief not to feel obligated. In the beginning I went simply because it was something tangible to yell at or complain to or beg for help. Now it’s just a rock. He isn’t there. He was never there.