Monday, January 23, 2012

Storm's End

A view of the shop and garden in my back yard
My part of the Pacific Northwest just experienced an epic snow and ice storm the likes of which I never thought I'd see living here. There are LOADS of people still without power 6 days after the storm first rolled in. I wrote the following on Friday, January 20.

I think we may have come to the beginning of the end of this year's epic storm, but I'm still cautious. The power came on a little while ago and I rushed to take a shower and run the dishwasher while I had the chance. I'm not yet ready to get too excited about the power when the tree limbs are still coming down and it looks like some really windy weather is on its way. The kind of wind that snaps tree limbs and brings down power lines.
I haven't been out of the house since Sunday. The only humans I've seen since Monday were a couple who braved this crazy weather to look at my house. My house is officially on the market.

I have deliberated endlessly about selling this place. I've considered renting it out, keeping it but moving out, selling it, and even staying in it, but down deep I knew all along that I couldn't stay here REALLY. It was still so wrenching that I was hoping for something to happen that would FORCE the decision. As Dave's birthday rolled around, I wished for a clear message or sign that leaving this house was the right thing to do. And then, as if by some strange cosmic force, the storm arrived on his birthday and continued for the next 3 days. Being trapped here, wondering when the power would come on again, and how I'd get out of my snow-blocked driveway for more gas for the generator, and how I'd keep the fire going, and how I'd get through another day completely alone in this big house made it clearer than ever.
It was as though I got my message. Loud and clear.

It's not even that I couldn't handle it. I handled it. I made the fires, I hauled the firewood, I dragged the generator out of the garage, I started the generator, I dug the car out of the snow. I did everything myself and I didn't need help. I know I can handle all of it. But I don't want to. I want to focus on moving forward and staying here is staying stuck. Stuck in the memories of a life I no longer get to live. Stuck keeping a house and too much land up and running. And the workload will only get worse in the spring and summer.

Even if I didn't live here alone, I'm still so far from opportunities I don't even know exist. I'm still isolated.

So that storm gave me what I was desperately looking for. It gave me a huge con to add to my pros and cons list in my head.
Staying in this house: CON - If there is a storm, you will have to live like a pioneer ALL ALONE for days on end.

Unfortunately, I still get clammy-handed and heart-skippy when I think of living in a new place. That anxiety wasn't relieved by this added resolve to move.

It's the first thing I think about when I wake up (often in the middle of the night) and the last thing I think about before I go to sleep. It's never far from my mind throughout the activities of the day, either.

But just because I fear it doesn't mean I shouldn't do it.

The storm said "This is no longer the right place for you, honey."

Saying goodbye to this place will break my heart. As it mends, though, it will be stronger. Yet another hurdle to say I conquered.

As of today (Monday, January 22), It looks as though I will be temporarily moving to the big city on  February 4. Wish this country mouse luck moving to her new urban digs!


  1. Cassie,
    For weeks I have been trying to put into words the way I am feeling and then you did it for me! Thank you. " I am stuck in the memories of a life I no longer get to live". Parallel lives all over the world. Good luck with the move. I look forward to reading all about it.

    1. The parallels are amazing, aren't they? Makes me wonder how connected we humans really are.
      I love the feeling of someone capturing a feeling I've been trying to articulate.
      So glad this post did that for you. Thank you for telling me.

  2. Cassie,
    I admire you for making it through the storm and moving onward, I've made it through storms but have yet to move onward. Haven't had as big of a storm yet here in MI, so I've manage it all. But, I, too, can see the need to move from this space, the memories are right there in front of me everyday. I'm dragging my feet as long as I can on making the decision. How did you decide where to go/what to rent or buy? I have a hard time even looking at places online, I can't imagine walking through prospective homes/condos/whatever.

    I do wish you luck, just watch out for those city cats!

    1. Well, I don't live far from this city (Portland) and so I've visited often and have several wonderful friends there. The other big city near me is Seattle, and I'm not as familiar with it, like the feel of Portland more and don't have any friends there.
      So, that made the choice pretty easy.
      Also, a dream I've put off for a long time, is working with animals. The Oregon Zoo is not far from my new place. AND there's the university if I decide to go back to school.
      I've always loved Portland, too. It's pretty great.
      As far as the actual place, that was a harder choice. I just did internet research on the area I wanted to be in and got input from friends who know the city better. Then, I spent a few days looking at places, and made the choice. I think I could have dragged out the decision making process for years on this one, but telling myself it's only for 6 months helped me realize that I didn't have to find the PERFECT place, just a good place that works for me now. I'm thinking of it like an extended vacation and that helps me ease into it a little.
      It was easier to consider leaving when I had the place chosen. Made it more concrete and I could start imagining my new day to day life.
      I definitely remember a stage I went through when I'd feel ill just looking at other places online, even, but eventually that shifted. I'm not sure why/how. It just did.
      I might just be numb! ;)
      You'll get there. I think it helps to do it in little steps and stages. It'll freak you out, you'll retreat, you'll try again, etc.
      It'll happen if it needs to happen. You'll do it. Look at what you've already survived!

  3. You're a brave girl Cassie!

    To stay, to move, to rent, to buy, to just keep pushing the decision back another day... Where we call home is an essential part of our lives. It is such a difficult decision to leave the place that has been such a wonderful home for so many years. I am coming up on two years without my husband. I can't tell you how many times my mind has been over the should I move, should I stay debate. My situation is complicated by four young, determined advocates to stay right where we are. I too live in the Pacific Northwest and have spent the last week digging out from two feet of snow and slush with more to come. Winters are hard and isolating and a little scary living so far away from others. I sometimes wonder why I'm working so hard to continue to live here. Am I doing it because I am holding onto a life that no longer exists? Am I doing it because the thought of starting over is just too much? Or maybe, I am doing it because it still feels right. I feel like this is where I am supposed to be. It's hard. Physically and mentally hard. But there is so much good to counter that hard that I think I need to hang out awhile longer and see what happens next. Besides, these four young people that are tagging along with me in life are doing great right where we are. Actually, everyone is happy with me being right where I am. My friends, my family, my children, my employees. The only one not happy is me. But I feel that unhappiness would follow me even if I did move. My unhappiness has nothing to do with where I live. It has everything to do with whom I am living without.

  4. ...I'm still so far from opportunities I don't even know exist...


  5. Michelle, that's a really good point. The unhappiness of who I'm living without will follow me, too. I had to think long and hard about why I'm moving. Is it an attempt to escape the pain (which is fruitless)? Is it an attempt to run from the memories (also pointless)?
    All I can say for sure at this point is that I need a change and I need to be near opportunities. AND I don't have dependents relying on me to be stable. I can experiment and see where life takes me without worrying about their needs, so that's an entirely different situation.
    It's good to hear that they are doing so well where you're staying.
    When my dad was widowed, he stayed put for 13 years until I was 18. I'm sure the stability was helpful for me.
    Good for you for being able to figure out what you need and where you need to be. It's such a wrenching decision!
    I wonder how close you live to me, by the way? Do you go to any widow support groups?

    1. I'm in the mountains of Idaho so a bit of a ways from you. There are no widow support groups where I am at. Widow's Voice is my support group so I am very grateful to you and the others for your daily sharing of struggles and successes. I wish you lots of new and exciting things in Portland. You have such a wonderful attitude and great determination that I don't doubt you will make it all work. Sending you prayers as you make this big step towards your new future.

    2. Hi Michelle W. I'm wondering if you've tried Widowed Village? It's a wonderful place for support when you can't find a face-to-face group. And it's sponsored by Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation who sponsors Widow's Voice. Take a look sometime:

    3. Michelle W, thanks for the good wishes.

      One of the things I'm looking forward to is moving closer to possible support groups and/or grief therapists.
      But when that's an impossibility, online communities like this are such a gift.

  6. Coincidentally, I just posted on my own blog about my decision to move forward and build the house my husband and I planned before he died. It's such a hard decision and I relate to every word you said. It was nice to hear I'm not alone in this type of decision...

  7. Thank you, Cassie. I am told I need to wait at least a year before making any big decisions including selling my home. Would everyone on here agree on that statement? I also have been buried in the muck here in Tacoma Wa I am so confused and scared I think I'll just stay put until I get a clear sign. Thank you all for sharing. Donna

    1. Donna, I was told not to make major decisions too soon, but no one put a timeline on it. I think you don't want to rush it, and regret your decision later, but don't let it drag you down either, in waiting too long to decide. I've stayed almost 2 years, I am torn as it is the house we literally built, but it is soon time. Just not sure of where I want to go, so have been taking it slow. Plus the housing market is starting to rebound now. Do what is right for you, if it's under a year and you want to go, then go. Only you can make that decision, do what Cassie did and make a pro/con list to start with. If you are still confused, I would stay put until it feels right, like anon below suggests.

  8. Someone once told me - you will know if it is the right decision if you sit with it long, in the quiet and you feel what that decision feels like.
    You imagine it and see yourself doing it and if it feels right, I believe that will rise up.
    It will be stronger than anything else you feel at the moment.
    No one can tell you what the right decision is but I think they say a year because there is so much to deal with that it is hard to wade through all of that. However I would argue if the house is weighing you down financially and a smaller house would ease the tension and stress. It just makes sense.
    Thanks Cassie for sharing.

  9. Ladies...I waited two years to make that decision and then did it fast. It just all worked out. I found an amazing house in town and close to my grown children. I think I needed those few years in my home with Jeff to make the transition. I can't speak for anyone else but I wanted to make sure I wouldn't regret leaving there.

    It was a good call for me and I really really love where I am now. I down-sized considerably during the move - got rid of furniture and "things" that I no longer needed. I've been moved since May of last year and I can guarantee it was the very best decision I've ever made.

    I brought my memories with me. Was so afraid that they would be left behind, but they weren't. Best of luck Cassie - thanks so much for sharing.

  10. My husband and I were temporarily in Portland for 3 years when he was killed. I had a funeral in Portland a week after he died, then another one in Kansas City a week after that. As I traveled to KC, I packed my bags and never expected to return to Portland. It was not our home even though we spent the majority of our married life out there (which I didn't realize until two years later) and had our son there. I was going on a gut instinct that told me to move back to what was familiar for the majority of my life. I closed on a house 1.5 months after my husband died...and people thought I was nuts. My instinct told me otherwise. With my life being completely tossed in the air all I knew to do was to do something that I had control over, that I knew I 'had' for my son and I and that was establishing a house, a home. I look back now and wonder if I would be different if I had waited and not moved back so quickly. The only time I spent surrounded by what we had there was when I went back to pack everything up. I sometimes wish that I had stayed and lived there for at least a few more months, however, I remind myself that he would not have been there any more than he is here with me now. He is in my heart and my head and that is what matters most.
    Even though people thought I had lost my mind - and I probably did - I would not change it. I did what I thought was best for my son and I. I may never be sure why I moved so fast or why I did it - but I did. And I can LIVE with that.
    Good luck to you - Portland is lovely and wonderful and I sometimes wish to be back there. You do what you need to do to live whether it be instinctual, intellectually or just plain crazy. Just live.

  11. Cassie,
    Truth be told, I moved out of our home within the first few months after he passed. I couldn't afford it, but better yet, I couldn't stand living there waiting for him to walk around the corner of the living room. For me, it was the best decision to live elsewhere and rent it out. I have rented it now for nearly 4 years. I will be finally selling it this year and I am happy with that decision. EVeryone always said to not make big decisions within the first year, but you will know when the time is right. Whether you sell or just rent depends on your personal situation and the area you live. Best of luck!

  12. Just a little note on what I did. At 6 months after kyle's death there were a lot of scary things going on in my town and decided it was time to go but wasn't sure where so I pulled out a map, closed my eyes, spun around 3 times and stuck my finger on it. Ended up in Oklahoma city Oklahoma! Found a great school to start at and off me and my three boys went. It was the best thing I ever did! No one knew my story or the drama I left behind. I was able to find myself and become a better person!
    I stayed there 3 1/2 years and still miss it to this day but glad I moved back and re-met (we knew each other in high school) an amazing man.
    I hope everything turns out good for you too! Just follow your heart and things will work out!