Ellie and I visited our house on the eve of her planned permanent return. It was good for of us to be in the house together. The boxes we brought joined haphazardly with the other stuff a friend had helped me move earlier.
Ellie assembled more stuff to bring home. Boxes and plastic bags, trailing to the door from the middle of the room, greeted me. Much of it was for the cats we’d be bringing home. Our friend Jane came to help.
“Didn’t you take anything home last night?” she asked.
“Yes, … ,” a little put off at the tone, “this is leftovers after moving the packed stuff you saw last night.”
“Yikes,” she replied.
“Yeah, well, let’s get started,” I said, feeling a little ‘yikes’ myself.
We loaded the cars and made a short parade going home.
The cats’ adjustment took about 20 seconds, amazing Jane, “They are really used to the two of you,” she said.
After pizza, Jane left in the late afternoon. Exhausted, Ellie and I watched the crystal ball drop in NYCIty and went to bed. “Happy New Year.” Indeed, it was; we were living together once again.
The real story here began the next morning with news that Ellie’s sister-in-law, who lives about 30 miles north of us, had gone to the hospital ER and been admitted to the ICU. Over the course of the next two days her condition worsened, we visited at her bedside with her two adult daughters and their husband and boy-friend, respectively. We were present at her bedside when she died, less than two days after being admitted to the hospital. She had been a healthy woman and her death shocked everyone.
These events brought three out-of-state sisters, one of their husbands, and several nephews to town for the funeral. We offered to put up the sister and brother-in-law from California ( who, for various reasons, all related to the brother and now deceased sister-in-law, had already been in town from California twice since Thanksgiving ) for the week they were here.
I had worked to get the house ready for Ellie’s return. That effort was mostly dealing with piles of paper that I had accumulated. I didn’t have to deal with boxes that were placed anywhere it seemed convenient. Even though our invitation to stay with us included the warning, “the house is a bit of a mess,” the effort both Ellie and I put in to get the house ready for our house-guests dwarfed my effort to get the house ready for Ellie!
Hosting the couple from California was very pleasant and we enjoyed seeing the sisters and nephews. Nonetheless, Ellie and I were already exhausted from our experience of Loretta’s cancer, hospice stay and death, and we had just begun re-learning the nuances of living together when this happened. The first two weeks of 2016 were not spent as we would have liked. The funeral and house guests required our attention to be placed elsewhere … to be focused outwardly.
But perhaps that was and is for the best.
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