So many milestones hurtle toward us. As many families can attest, you always end up trying to rearrange your household in preparation for big events. We are in the midst of some minor renovations, though they feel big, because they disrupt our daily living patterns.
We’ve launched changes to the kitchen’s configuration. Plus we’re upgrading a bathroom on the first floor, too. As you can imagine, walls are torn out. Framing, wires and pipes stand exposed. Replacement units sit awaiting installation.
Meanwhile nothing is in its usual spot. There’s lots of moving-around of appliances, storage, counters, walls, floors, doors, plumbing, electrical outlets, and the “innards” of the house to accommodate these changes.
Along the way, we empty more closets. Compost leftovers out of the freezer and fridge before moving the big appliances (out onto the back porch, which is now an warm-weather annex to the kitchen for a while). Create piles of items to be moved and shelved elsewhere. Lug bags of trash and recycling. Collect donations for the next curbside pickup. Gather stacks and bundles of to-be-organized stuff (groceries, dishes, kitchen, bathroom and household items).
During one of the busiest months of the year, we’ve introduced a new layer of chaos. In a few weeks, Sarah graduates. The following weekend, our families arrive from Colorado, Illinois, Ohio and New Jersey to celebrate her commencement and cheer for her during end-of-year dance show and senior voice recitals. And days later, it will be time for the Coast of Hope bike ride, which is a major project for our entire family.
By mid-June, summer commences, and it’s a countdown of fitting in some fun, lots of work, and prepping for college in the fall. Sarah and Chris will participate in several fundraising bike rides and a week-long youth group service trip to Staten Island to work in soup kitchen and shelters. Sarah will travel with friends, work in Chris’s office and bussing at the restaurant to save money. She’s planning a reunion with last summer’s short-term Italian exchange student Chicca. Then she’s off to college. And so am I.
There’s a May milestone approaching, before all of these June-July-August activities. We’ll soon inter Jessie’s ashes in the Highlands Cemetery above High Street, beneath towering maples. Her headstone arrived last week, though we haven’t seen it yet. We have a day and time picked out, and plans for a family-only (Chris, Gail and Sarah) ceremony with Reverend Rebecca Pugh. Then when our extended families arrive in mid-June, they may visit the gravesite, if they choose.
It’s about time for some resolution; now we’ll have a place to go with our feelings and thoughts. Sarah chose it for her sister and our family: a sun-dappled spot on the hilltop overlooking the town. At first, we weren’t sure we wanted or needed such a site, but it’s become clear that this will provide comfort to the living. It’s taken us a long time to gather the energy and focus to complete this project, though.
For now, I can’t easily get to the refrigerator for a snack or cold beverage. My non-perishable foods are stored in a plastic bin in the middle of the dining room. There’s plastic hanging in the kitchen, dividing cooking space from construction zone. The bathroom isn’t quite useable any more, unless you don’t mind peeing in public.
That’s all okay. We launched these projects, because eventually, they’ll lead to improved living conditions. And we’ll quickly forget the mess and chaos, even though it’s overwhelming now.
Life is like that … it all swirls together, and we make time and space for all of it. In the corners of the kitchen, where I haven’t yet captured them between broom and dustpan, there’s a mound of dust and debris. In a handmade wooden box on the buffet, for a few more weeks, I keep my child’s ashes.
Some of our detritus from house renovations will be composted or recycled; returned, I hope, to the earth in a way that feeds our world. Some will be discarded. Some will be re-used. Some remains will stay here and be cherished. Others will find a new resting place.