“I heralded the beginning of 2020 with mixed feelings, as I had just been laid off but now had more time to spend on my novel and my kids. I completed my novel and found some helpful information along the path of finding readers and an agent. But a week into the year, my son broke his toe during indoor track practice. Watching him compete in his sports is something I always cherish and something I look forward to all year, from cross country to track to tennis.
Not this year.
In February, he was in a terrible car accident, which he luckily walked away from. It still scares me when I think about it. But it was a great financial loss.
Later that month, someone put in an offer on our home, which we’d had for sale since last June.
While some of the news I reported might seem like an opportunity or a mixed blessing, I need to say more for it to be clear that testing patience, love, and the ability to be non-judgmental yet kind definitely have occurred and continue.
It is no surprise to anyone in the world that what followed shook the core of every person, every family, in no way that ever happened in all our lifetimes. Now I am home with my kids, a 17-year-old and an almost 7-year-old who is going on 18. I teach, I guide, I convince, I persuade. All of this while cooking, shopping, cleaning, paying bills, trying to write and edit, and surviving. And some of these are things I dislike and the reason I left sales many moons ago.
Our house closing occurred two weeks ago, and we have been living in our 23-foot trailer RV that we scrambled to purchase after selling our ‘Scamp’ tiny trailer. Six feet wide. I will repeat. Six feet wide. Just 23 feet long. I have seen bigger bedrooms. In fact, we just sold a house with such a bedroom.
If I’d had the foresight in January not to relist the house. If I’d realized what would follow would thankfully be surrounded by the safety of a nice, large house with which we were all familiar for three years, one whose mortgage could be put on hold due to the pandemic… if only.
All our furniture in storage since mid-April, we lived in the RV since April 20. The new owner of the house allowed us to remain on his business property a mile away, offering an extension cord, Wi-Fi, and kindness I’d never seen. We stayed for a week. Now we are lucky to be in a private campground which was able to open May 1, unlike most things which are shut down in New York State. We stayed in a motel for five nights to rejuvenate, have electricity, and take showers. We have electricity now. You see, we were unaware each site has to procure its own and our power company was booked. Additionally, it was below freezing last weekend and it snowed. I repeat… it snowed. (It’s May 15.)
Thankfully, I packed some sweaters and coats. If only I’d packed some necessities differently.
There are days I look out at the lake in front of us, also missing our beautiful home on the river we just sold, but I am pleased. This does not happen often, however. Most days, I feel like I may be depressed. I miss my old life, not just the routine but my old kitchen, basement, closet. Now, I don’t even know where my things are, and I miss the things I so carefully boxed and labeled. There’s no laundry unless we drive to a laundromat, and we have to be strategic about the groceries we purchase so as not to cram too much in our medium-sized fridge.
We also have to be strategic about when and how to remind the kids about assignments. They have fewer chores now. But some days, they just can’t. I just can’t. There are days when I feel like a failure, a poor substitute for a teacher. I feel I let my kids down. Without a job, there is no new mortgage so despite desiring the house right next to the one we just sold, which would be more reasonably priced, we can’t get in there. So close, yet so far. Maybe I should have put up with the terrible job that I felt might have killed me to take a temporary one that ended New Year’s Eve.
My sister reminds me weekly that we have our health. We do. I do count my blessings. We have our health, our sanity (at least I think we do!), our talents, our sense of humor, food on our table, money to pay bills (with my unemployment and supplemental), and running water. We have our beautiful dog of eight years, Jimmy. We can walk, we can work out. We have online meetings and Zumba and gymnastics. I look forward to the supportive texts, emails, and calls from my kids’ teachers and administrators, and we enjoyed the free meals for two months.
Two days after the official shutdown began, March 16, we picked up my kids’ classwork before they set up Google Classroom and other supports. I cried when I saw my daughter’s teacher approach our car with a bundle of work. I should have thanked the teachers more.
I sobbed as I watched a group of people waving frantically during the Zumba dance session via Zoom, and I wiped away more tears as I watched my daughter show her gymnastics team her new stuffed animal via Zoom. They couldn’t touch it to see that it was soft as she indicated, and they couldn’t hug her. I should have let her talk to them more after gymnastics class instead of running out the door.
What will the future bring? I know it is a question for many of us. For me personally, will I have my house soon? I look with joy at the paint color choices, flooring options, and long to fix up my new home. I look forward to setting up my closet and finding all my clothes again.
What will the future be like? For me, it’s not just the pandemic, you see. It’s ‘Will I ever work again?’ and ‘Will I get into my new home soon, or lose it to someone who can get a pre-approved mortgage?’ You do understand what I’m saying, right?
It’s all these ‘if only’s.’
Amidst all this, I get an awful and mean message from someone with whom I thought I got along and no reason behind it.
And constant fights with my family. Is this all making us stronger? Because with the difficult life I’ve had, I’m sorry, I don’t know if I need to be any stronger.
Perhaps strength is the reason I am healthy.
Everything for a reason. If only I knew the reasons.
This, too, shall pass.
Peace to you all.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Paula Chapman. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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