Dear Walt,

Today marks eight weeks since December 21st happened. They say not to make any major decisions for at least a year after a loss such as what I’ve suffered. I suppose they mean not selling the house or walking away from the house or burning the house to the ground.

I’m not planning on doing any of those though there are days I feel like doing all of them. And then I remember how fortunate I am to have our son in law and our daughter here to work. How fortunate I am that you had bought most of the supplies and done so much of the rebuilding before December 21st happened. There are so many Harvey-affected people who are still unable to live in their homes. Some who are still unable to hire a contractor. The demand for good ones is overwhelming. I’m having trouble getting a plumber to return my call. I can’t even imagine waiting all this time to start the construction like our neighbors J&P have had to do.

I guess I think that if the house was put back together and we weren’t living upstairs but had the run of the whole place with new floors and new furniture and finished kitchen cabinets that being without you would be easier to bear. It wouldn’t be. I know that. But I’m impatient when stalled by construction block. Kind of like writer’s block. Life these days is just one big wait. Even the fence company is having to wait out the rain to finish replacing the long section at the back of the lot. At least I picked out the bathtub. Now if the plumber will just return my call…

A reader friend who lost her husband several years ago told me that the thing she hated most hearing from people was that everything happens for a reason (not his death but some issues she had to deal with that kept her busy afterward). I’ve wondered that about the hurricane and flooding. If Harvey hadn’t happened before December 21st did, taking away my ability to focus and write and leaving us with a house to put back together, what would I be doing with my days? Would I be watching more TV than the two or three hours I watch each night before bed? Would I be pacing the house more than I do now? Would I be leaving home as often as I could, going to the store or the movies or anyplace at all just so I didn’t have to be here without you?

Not having you here has made small decisions easy to make because I have to make this house mine to live in even while it will always be yours, and ours, the house where we spent our best empty-nest years, the house where we plotted and wrote Icefall. The house where we began growing older and more settled and completely comfortable with our amazing life.

And yet making them ties me up in knots because I want to honor your vision and wishes, your tastes which so often were polar opposite from mine while knowing I’m the only one living here in our house that’s now mine. I rely on the kids a lot, asking what color fireplace tile will look best with the new flooring. It’s not the bamboo you wanted but it’s the same color and so so gorgeously weathered. You had signed off on the white kitchen cabinets, had even bought the refinishing kit, but you wanted more of a reddish purple than the eggplant I kept.

I did, however, use your red on the north walls of the master suite… the bedroom, bathroom, and closet. The other walls are a dark ash gray and it looks amazing with the white baseboards, doors, trim, and window sills. I haven’t decided yet if you would love it or hate it but I hope you see how excited I am about it and are happy that it fits the me who no longer has you.



Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash