A Slow Reboot into the Unknown
To say that the last few years have been a whirlwind is perhaps an understatement. Or a testament to the fact that I don’t have the firsthand experience necessary to use ‘tornado’ or ‘hurricane’ as a metaphor. I’m not just speaking of world events like pandemics or wars, but with my own little corner of the universe.
It’s been more than a year since I last wrote anything for this blog. I don’t imagine that I have an abundance of readers out there clamoring for an update but even if that number is zero, it’s time for a bit of journaling in public.
I made it through 2020 mostly unscathed. My company transitioned to remote work that March and the rest of the year passed with only a bit more caution while in public. As an introvert, this was not an altogether bad time for me. 2021 and 2022, however, were a discontinuous onslaught of change, adjustment and upheaval.
I left a job I had been in for 17 years with twelve months of pay and benefits to see me through to whatever came next. My partner and I got a beautiful, willful, wild mix of a dog from a local animal shelter. Within hours, we realized that he possesses enough energy to power a small town. His name is Woden and he is amazing.
Since I didn’t have to worry about work in the early part of 2021, I put my worldly possessions in storage and started on the Appalachian Trail in February. Attempting this in winter was both challenging and beautiful. Somewhere near the 250 mile mark, I had to put the effort on hold. After making it through the Smoky Mountains, I learned that my mom had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. No one could say how long she had. But she’s a fighter and it turned out to be longer than anyone expected.
In April 2021, the already years-long divorce process that I have been navigating turned ugly in the way I always knew and feared that it would. I’m human and in hindsight I know that I should have done things differently. So it goes. Whatever our choices, the outcomes are often beyond our control. And bad outcomes can lead to wisdom. Or so I remind myself.
I moved in with my mom in May 2021 to help with everything I could during the decline we knew she would experience. My brother, my partner and I took her to Wyoming to see the Grand Tetons over a long weekend in July. It was one of the few places left on her bucket list and I’m thankful that I was able to make that happen. And that she was still strong enough to make the trip. I started a new position as a remote software engineer a week after we returned.
In a display of love and compassion that still leaves me amazed, my partner bought my mother’s house in November 2021. This allowed my mom to stay in her home with both of us there to help care for her. This allowed Woden to vigorously befriend her cat Harmonia. It also freed up equity for my mom to be able to pay medical bills.
We decorated the house for Christmas. My nieces spent more time with us as my brother and his wife navigated the beginning of their divorce and worked to rebuild new lives. The mediation for my divorce was supposed to happen in mid-December. It was canceled hours before for reasons that remain unclear and firmly in the twin realms of nonsense and shenanigans.
My mom died on February 9th, 2022. The decline was a rapid series of small indignities that lasted only a few weeks. She endured it in her resilient, stoic fashion. It was no small grace that she retained her sharp mind until the end. She started hospice on a Monday and was gone by that same Wednesday. When my mom put her mind to something, she got it done. We were there with her up to her last moments. She passed away at home, surrounded by loved ones and feeling no pain. I don’t know that any of us can hope for a better death.
Here we are just over a month and a half later. I’m back to work and stumbling through the small and beautiful tragedies that are a part of grief. My partner and my dog are still amazing. Spring is here. I’m not sure when I will make it back to the Appalachian Trail, but I still hope to finish it and many other trails besides. I don’t know how the divorce is going to go, but I remain cautiously optimistic that it will at least be fair. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my mom and I don’t believe that will ever change. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t know what the months and years ahead look like, but I’m hopeful that things will calm the fuck down.