So sometimes in life we talk of balance. Good karma directed at those most deserving, catching breaks on the tail end of hard times, that sort of thing.
I’ve often found that to be the case. At times when I feel like the grease trap at the bottom of the universe is depositing its slow leak directly on my head, I tell myself that good things in equal force are coming and they always do. Life is cyclic and in regular flux.
And so it happened just like that, inside of the same month, something incredibly wonderful, followed closely by something incredibly sad.
First, JD got a pile of major book deals with very big publishers all over the world. Disallowed a discussion of the specifics, I can say these are the kinds of book deals that allow a person never to work another day in his life, to give notice at the office where he’s worked for 24 years, and to be a full-time writer of fiction, maker of stories, collector of royalties and advances. And so he has and he is. It’s beyond what either of us ever dreamed could happen. We’re big dreamers but this was pie in the sky. Something above the clouds that doesn’t happen in real life.
We had a goal when we moved here. We had hoped that by selling our big house and downsizing our lives, that he could write full time. Big houses require big salaries and so he was stuck. Sometimes I watch that Tiny House show on HGTV and think this is a very good trend. Our version of tiny house-ing consisted of using the cash from the sale of our Florida house to purchase a handful of investment properties here in Pittsburgh, including 2 duplexes, and then to live in one of the duplexes while our tenants paid the mortgage. It worked out exactly as we’d planned. Only better because we never expected the wild success or the book deals. We had planned for a modest but livable writing wage.
We started with one duplex, which we live in, and we now own a second duplex and a house that we picked up as a foreclosure. It was going to be a flip but our cost on it was so low that we’d actually save money by moving into the house. So next week we’ll be moving into our fully renovated house. It’s got a yard, which Dakota the Fluffer Wolf is very pleased about – he can’t tell you how many days over winter he spent looking longingly out the window at all the snow drifts he couldn’t roll in – a brand new kitchen just full of storage (I tell ya, the things you take for granted in a 3800 square foot house that are loudly not present in a 700 square foot duplex half) and three bedrooms.
One of those bedrooms was painted Sherwin Williams Enchanted Pink, with brilliant white trim. It was meant for two tiny girls. Those girls were born at 24 weeks, and they will never get to see their room.
If I tried to recapture all that happened over the past 8 weeks in one post, you and I both would be here for a very long time. I finished cleaning up the blog for republication because I missed it, because it helps me in working out life and in writing my fiction, and because I want to tell these stories before they’re lost forever. Already what was last month violently colored is now soft and fading around the edges, a terrible dream, fog that breaks apart in the dewy light of morning.
I’m still working on housekeeping things here. Menus are being rebuilt and reorganized, and pages are being spiffed and spruced. But for now, things can live here comfortably.
I want to end for today by saying thank you for all of the emails, the gifts, the love. Many of you saw this news on Instagram or Facebook and so thank you for all of the love there as well. I read and was comforted by every single message and comment. Family brought flowers and baked goods and casseroles to our door. The post man brought flowers and gifts and cards. For weeks all I could do was sit with their box of footprints and hats and blankets and dresses on my couch, staring silently at the walls, feeling it. I didn’t talk to anyone or see anyone or do much other than exist. But knowing so much love was waiting for me outside the door, any time I was ready to open it, helped me to get where I am.
I tend not to harbor a whole lot of faith in humanity, but during the worst weeks of my life, humanity gathered together and surprised me. There are so many good people out there. Mothers who lost babies. People who have been wounded and now give a piece of themselves back as a salve for old scars. Volunteers who knit the little hats our girls wore for their photos. A volunteer photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep who photographed their delicate little faces, so reflective of their dad. Volunteers who sew the tiny white dresses they wore for all of their short hours on earth, before we said goodbye and sent them to the morgue at West Penn Hospital instead of bringing them home.
I got to hold them, to kiss their doll feet, to lay their miniature hands over my thumb, perfect fingernails and perfect skin. I was afraid to see them at first. Afraid I would have nightmares about them, that they would look like monsters. But they were so familiar. The instant they were lain in their wicker basket on my lap, and I lifted them up and out of the blankets made just for them by yet another kind soul, they were familiar. Yes they were tiny and a little bruised. But they were mine and his and they looked like us but mostly like him and I felt like I had known them forever.
I won’t get to see them grow up, get chicken pox, learn to walk, skin their knees or go to college. But I met them, and I know them. For always.
“I carried you for every day of your life. And I will love you for every day of mine.”