I should preface whatever it is I’m going to write next with these words:
IT NEVER RAINS IN CALIFORNIA.
Seriously. When it does rain here, we hunker down and stay home. We don’t know how to drive when weather happens. We don’t know how to act. I’d be hard pressed to name any friends of mine who own a raincoat. No rain. It’s California. We don’t “do” weather. End of discussion.
Well, that all changed at the beginning of this year.
It started raining. Raining like crazy. Talk about not knowing how to act! We took turns filming the water come down with our iPhones and sent the videos to each other. “Look at the rain come down at my house!”
We posted about the rain on social media.
— Marta Darby (@Smrtqbn) January 12, 2017
My friends from Miami scoffed out loud at our backwards ways. “Rain? You videotaped the rain? LOL.” *cue hysterical laughter*
But it kept raining here. And life kept going.
In the midst of the deluge that brought about the end of the Great California Drought of 2017, my mom passed away. And the weather mirrored my feelings.
Eric switched jobs which allowed him to work from home again, but he was traveling. He spent a week in Connecticut. It was cold there, but here? It just kept raining. Hard.
And because I was home and kind of grounded, I baked a lot.
And even made homemade soup like you’re supposed to on rainy days. Ok, Rain. I get how this works. Watch me dominate.
(I just realized that I haven’t posted recipes for my famous Chocolate Chip Muffins or my favorite tomato soup. Note to Self…)
Wait. Why is the floor wet? And the wall? What is happening? The rain didn’t care how I answered the questions. It just kept coming. I moved my furniture away from the wall. Wait. Why is the wall wet?
“Yes, Amy, bring Sebastian over, but don’t let him go over there. The floor is wet.” That water was relentless.
And so it was that we found The Leak. The Leak was not caused specifically because of the torrential rains, but the rains caused the ground to be so wet that The Leak that had apparently been there for a while finally showed itself because it had nowhere to go. Parenthetically, this was a relief because our insurance covered a slab leak but not flooding.
So, in the midst of my personal storms and the actual storms, we found ourselves having to tear up our floor and walls to get to that slab leak.
Let me just clarify here – I know this is a first world problem. My point in writing about this is because I was so broadsided by how everything seemed to be happening at once and in slow motion.
Excuse me, Life, but I’m grieving here. I haven’t got time to make BIG decisions about my house. I’ve got to help go through my mom’s things and plan a memorial and write an obituary. Oh yeah, and grieve. I’ve got to do that stuff. No time for a slab leak.
But Life was not really paying attention to my discomfort and The Leak needed to be dealt with.
Mercifully, our contractor knew exactly what to do and how to isolate the problem. But that meant not only ripping up the floor and the wainscoting, but busting into the walls. And until they fixed The Leak and did the re-piping, the water in the house had to be turned off and we obviously couldn’t live here while all this destruction was happening.
The foundations of my adorable,
freakishly small cottage-like home had to be ripped up and it might have been okay except for my heart was enduring much of the same.
We spent a week ensconced in one of those extended stay type places. We came to call it “The Safe House.” It was clean and the beds were comfortable, but such was my state of shock that I did not take ONE photo to document that week of my life. I know. Who AM I? I wasn’t completely sure anymore.
Blowers and de-humidifiers had to be brought in to dry up the soggy concrete. The open, saturated walls gave off the smell you only find when you’re at the bottom of the caves on the Pirates of the Caribbean. Yo Ho!
Gratefully, there was no mold, which would have added another terrible level of Problematic to our already maxed-out Crazy.
In between trips home from the Safe House to check on the progress of the blowers, my sisters and I went through my mom’s things. I brought home a dozen full boxes of all her photo albums and dismantled her teacup collection. And I would stop and cry. The tears were as relentless as the rain.
My mom was gone and I wanted to talk to her about all that was happening. I could hear her saying, “Pa’lante y con fe.” (“Onward. With faith.”)
My sisters and I divided up the mundane tasks of dismantling a life that need to be done when you lose a loved one. We apportioned the tasks based on personal skill sets. It fell to me to plan the memorial. A Celebration of Life. And so I set about to scan 1000’s of photos. I created a photo book and worked on a video and sent out cards and all that stuff.
I was also choosing flooring and paint colors in the midst of my sadness. It should have been fun, but I was feeling too sorry for myself to enjoy the process.
My kitchen has been torn up for 2 months now. Which means we’ve been eating fast-ish food and sandwiches. I have not cooked a thing. Unless you count toast. (I don’t count toast.) In other words, I don’t recognize my life at all.
And yet, slo-w-ly the pieces of my new home are coming together. The walls are finally closed up. No more Pirates smell. And the floor! I love it so much I want to marry it.
The walls are newly painted and I think I did pretty well choosing the new colors. Also, my mom’s house has already sold as is in escrow. The Celebration of Life was beautiful and I’ll write about that soon enough.
I have stacks of boxes to go through in the garage. My kitchen is almost ready for me to move back in. I am re-thinking where things will be hung and what I’ll keep and what I’ll give away. Nothing seems to match my beautiful new floor. My old furniture looks shabby.
My life is not going to look like it did before. I suppose I’ll start cooking again at some point pretty soon. Right now I’m still feeling the weight of all the CHANGE. But that’s how it works. When the drought ends, you need to prepare for a New Normal.
Believe it or not, it’s raining again today as I write this. My garden is starting to call me and remind me that winter is over and spring is on its way. This season will one day be a distant memory.
And even with all the loss and liquidation (pun intended), there is the promise of a beautiful new life on the other side.
Pa’lante y con fe.