Sunday, August 10, 2008

Since We Last Spoke

Family, all of it, the last remaining dregs, left Friday afternoon. That marked 3.5 weeks with various permutations of family sleeping and eating in my house on a daily basis. My house, which frequent readers know currently has a gaping hole where my kitchen once was, and a 3-story elevator shaft where the (rarely-used, narrow, servants') back stairs once were. (We removed this "wall" in order to expand the kitchen, and the stair-case-hole will be closed on the second floor for a new laundry and on the third for guest quarters. NOT an elevator. Sadly, because running to the third-floor kitchenette is doing wonders for my calves but not so much my patience.) So I guess if you want to be technical, the day we had 10 for an impromptu lunch we also had approximately 8-10 contractors and subs in another part of the house. Did I tell you that I walked out into the hallway one morning to find my dog chewing on a Bella toy, began bitching him out only to look up and see my architect emerging from my second floor bathroom? It's been all shades of crazy.

The OBX were fun but not remotely relaxing. Not remotely. With big family dinners every night, followed by children waking up at 6:30 a.m. demanding to go hunt for seashells, I arrived home a sleep-deprived mess wondering how on earth I ever considered that week would be a vacation. I believe my parents were pleasantly surprised by the availability of good food products at the local stores, thank you for asking. And unlike last year where the repetitive rush of waves was an appropriate meloncholy backdrop to my mood, this year we all braved the riptide, got soaked, cracked jokes about my uncle's fishing prowess, and went crabbing. On the last day, I made all the small second cousins sit on a ledge, and constructed sand mermaid tails for the lot of them. It was only getting stuck in traffic on the way home due to a fatal accident about a mile ahead of us that I grew distant, and remembered how last year I insisted on taking Maddy's remains to my aunt's during this very trip so they wouldn't be alone. How far I've come, I thought, and made sure I walked directly into the family room after our 13-hour odyssey in order to say hello to the zip-lock on the shelf.

There were Bella birthday parties (no less than three of them), dinners composed of either take-out or stuff cooked on the grill, negotiating car usage, blistering heat, the occasional water or electrical outage thanks to renovation. The second car got a flat, a head cold cum flu symptoms is making it's way through the family that amassed last week, and in the free 20 minutes I had to weed over the last three weeks, I seem to have contracted a case of poison ivy.

Bella and her cousin (who is a year older) had a typical, heartfelt, and hilarious love/hate relationship: They exchanged clothes freely, played marvelously together, and only came close to blows once. "Want to play a game?" "THAT'S MINE!" "I'll push you on the swing!" "SHE HAS MORE THAN ME!" They slept in the same room, and did so marvelously save for one night (well, early morning if you must know), and of course the whole thing gave me much pause to consider what might have been. Ultimately, I'm so relieved she has a cousin, who will hopefully remain a confidante even if they do feed on each other's worst attributes: whining, and wearing age-inappropriate clothes provided by MIL's.

Because this 3.5 week time-suck was preceded by getting the kitchen ready for demo, I really feel as though I'm emerging from a six week business trip abroad. A lot has been left unattended during this lapse: our yard desperately needs weeding, our architect needs some final decisions on faucets and sinks and powder room tile, our car still has flat, my blogging life is in disarray. My family doesn't know I blog, so it was damn near impossible to carve out time for surreptitious "bill paying" or even reading/commenting without someone looking over my shoulder.

Blog time is Maddy time anymore, and as such, I feel as though I've rather left her memory on a back burner in the past six weeks as well. Save for a couple quick posts here and there, she didn't come up much: there was an odd discussion about how much auto-insurance companies suck during which "the incident" was mentioned. And of course on the last night with her cousin, with both of them curled up on the air mattress, Bella selected "I'm a Big Sister" for her book of the evening. I hate reading that book, even though I know it's her right to hear it. I really hated reading it to the both of them. In sum, I simply plowed from one activity to the next, one meal to the next, one evening to the next.

So it came as some surprise when my SIL sent me the following thank you note. My SIL is one of those people, one who wrote me daily and then weekly during my social time-out last year simply to tell me she was thinking of me without asking for anything in return. She has been nothing short of supportive and kind, and apparently, aware and unafraid of the subject (let's hope she doesn't google her own email):

I can't believe how much Bella has grown and I love her old soul. Maddelena's spirit is strongly present in your home and in all of our hearts. We all think about her all of the time but being there, I found myself thinking about who she would look like and what her personality would've been like. You and [Mr. ABF] are amazing.


As relieved as I was to go to bed Friday night, QUIETLY, with my husband, daughter, 2 dogs, and 2 cats, knowing the mason would be arriving for a rare Saturday work day promptly at 7 a.m., it's reassuring to know that family like this exists.

I hope you all are well, and haven't written too horribly much over the past few weeks. Thank you also, all of you, who wrote me to make sure I hadn't fallen off the edge of the earth. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some pendant lighting to consider.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am at this moment holed up in my tv room with the door closed watching "Garden State" on DVD. My mother, sister, and sister-in-law drove 720 miles over two days to stay in my house one night and then turn around and drive home. This is so they can say they saw my new house. They all went to bed tonight before 9:30 because they were so tired. This is our visit for the year, mind you. I shouldn't be surprised, but I am, once again, terribly disappointed. Family, for some of us, never gets easy.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! Looking forward to catching up!

STE on b.berry

luna said...

I'm in love with your SIL.

welcome back.

charmedgirl said...

that is an incredible email...and sentiment. why does it shock me to read it? probably because i have reason to know that it takes much bravery (?!?!) for people to talk about our dead babies like that.

you MUST be exhausted. i haven't been on a trip of any kind since my alive kids were born and honestly, when i think of doing it, i break out in a cold sweat!! good luck catching up...

Antigone said...

Welcome back. Amazing how some people really do get it while others remain utterly clueless. The disparity is hard to understand.

k@lakly said...

Sounds like a great trip overall and a visit that at least wasn't as bad as you imagined it would be.
I try to focus on the people who remember to ask about 'the incident' and not the ones who don't, but sadly, the ones who do ask just highlight the fact that so many don't.
Good luck picking out gadhets and gizmos!

Newt said...

Welcome back. I've missed your voice.

janis said...

oh gosh, I am glad to see you back! about to get "Awful" withdrawl...I was afraid the contractors accidentally poured concrete over you, and... ...

What craziness it had been! I hope you enjoy the quiet now... 'cept for the contractors, of course. and I hope the poison ivy is gone now...

That email from your SIL was amazing.

loribeth said...

Glad to have you back posting! & that you had a good vacation. I know what you mean about trying to carve out some time for blog reading & writing... I am currently at my parents' house & my sister is here too. So far, not too bad, but it's busy & hard to spend any length of time on the PC.

Your SIL is amazing. : )

Julia said...

Your SIL is awesome. It's nice that you do have this side of the family.

Can we assume there will be pictures of the finished product when the house is all done? If you aren't swallowed whole by the process, of course...

MsPrufrock said...

I was just wondering to myself when you would be back. I'm so pleased to finally see an update! I completely understand the family thing, having just gone through the whole charade myself lately as you know. Ugh.

Ok, I'm about to sound really strange here, but I would love to see house before/after photos. I'm a bit of an architecture/house porn freak, so this notion of an elevator shaft and servants' stairway has my interest significantly piqued.

Weird comment over.

Aunt Becky said...

Glad that you are back and resting up. I missed you more than is healthy.

Searching said...

Glad you are back! I'm sorry you didn't have much of a vacation. I hope things hurry up and get finished so you have a chance to just breathe!

Bon said...

welcome back, Tash.

that note? that was lovely.

G said...

You made it! Yay! And that note from the SIL, amazing. I love when people reach out like that.

Thanks for coming back, I will try not to suck the energy out of you... try.
xo
g

furtherrecords said...

Wow, exhausting. I am sort of glad you've been busy, though, because I've been drowning in moving stuff and not able to read! Now I can catch up with you.

Your SIL is awesome. I am so glad you have her, and she has you.

kyouell said...

Very cool note. Reminds me that yesterday when my daughter woke up she said hi to me and then hi to the corner of the room. When those rare moments happen I ponder all the people who are gone that might have stopped by to check on her, just to see what she looks like and how she's doing. Family is family, here or there.

c. said...

Your SIL is incredible, Tash. Really. Incredible.

And, if I can be so bold as to be gushy, you were very much missed.

niobe said...

What MsPrufrock said. And what Aunt Becky said.

Sophie said...

Your sil is wonderful. It's little things like that that mean so much. I hope you are enjoying having your house back though. My family drives me batty when they come to stay. Thankfully it's never more than a couple of days. Three weeks? Sheesh.

Kymberli said...

Your SIL sounds like good people, as we Southern people tend to say. I guess people thought they were doing you a favor by trying to ignore the space around you where Maddy is (???). No clue.

Glad you're back. I haven't been as busy as usual on my blog. School and rematching has invaded my blogtime.

Will we ever get to pics of demo and reno? Your house sounds amazing, even under construction (or destruction).

boltefamily said...

Thinking of you. Knowing how hard it is to function...

wheelsonthebus said...

Here through Ms. Prufrock. And will definitely be back.

STE said...

Just thinking about you and hoping all things pendant lighting-related are going well.

Looking forward to catching up with you, and hoping you are doing well.