On July 8, 2011 my close friend and brother passed away. It took us by surprise and left a hole in our hearts that doesn’t seem to heal. He was 45 years old and found lying in his yard. The cause of death was ruled a heart attack. At times I think that I am slowly getting over his passing, and other times I feel like all the air has been taken from me.
I live about 45 minutes away from where he did. Seven months before he died the Charmed One and I bought this house in the town I lovingly refer to as Podunk. It had certain things I was looking for. I didn’t want neighbors close. I've always been more of a country girl who likes her space. It had nice land. I envisioned doing a lot aesthetically to the landscape. After so many years working with plants I couldn’t wait to plant at our own place. The house itself is beautiful too. At least in our eyes!
The last time I saw my brother he came over to help cut up a big limb that had fallen in the yard. He showed up at nine a.m. sharp because anything later it would be too hot to be working outdoors. Afterwards we went to the garden and I showed him what was growing. We talked a long time about different things including our mom and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary that was just a few short months away. Even though we were the two farthest away it looked like we were going to do all the major planning.
Here’s the thing though. My brother was dealing with some major stress in his life. I had watched his hair go from red to gray in just a short period of time. I tried to be there for him as much as I could. That last time I saw him he offered me a Guinness, to which the Charmed One wished him luck in getting me to drink before evening. I just am not an afternoon drinker. Well… It was Guinness! We’re Irish. We don’t say no to a good Guinness, right? We had a beer together, and we ate a lunch that included a squash casserole that he fell in love with. We talked about his stresses and I begged him to make up his mind about what he was doing. I told him about a friend I had from high school who just passed away two weeks before. She was 39 years old and had suffered a heart attack. He looked up at me with surprise. When he went to leave the Charmed One gave him a hug. He turned and his big sad brown eyes fell on me. I just gave him a smile and watched him get in his truck and leave. That was the last time I saw him. Two weeks later I got the call.
Why am I sitting here crying my eyes out and writing this?
After he passed it was pure hell. My family came down from New York, and three of his closest friends from high school made the trip to say their goodbyes. For a month after that my family considered having a memorial for him in New York. Many friends and other family wanted the chance to pay their respects. In mid August we gave them that chance. For about a month and a half it was like we couldn’t move on. So as soon as the wheels of the plane hit the tarmac coming back to Charlotte I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. I know it may sound strange, but it’s true.
The next week is when I visited Savannah for the second time in my life. We spent a couple of days walking the streets, tasting the flavors, and inhaling the southern charm of the historic city. For the first time in a long time I felt like I could take a deep breath. I felt my stresses fall away with each historic square, each clickity clomp of horses hooves on the cobblestone streets, or each hospitable greeting from a complete stranger. I finally felt a sense of happiness again.
It was at that point we decided to move there. We had some things we had to clear up first here, which we did, and most of you know the house was put up for sale.
As of right now the house is under contract with new buyers. Barring anything going wrong we will close in April.
With that news I am extremely happy and overwhelmingly sad. All of my worries come to the front burner now. Two months ago this was a good move, but due to personal reasons now we’re not sure. It is more of a risk now than before. There will always be the lingering thoughts of, “Is this the right thing to do?”
Other thoughts flood me as well. I almost feel like I am saying goodbye to my brother all over again, if that makes any sense. It still pains me to go near where he lived. If I cross over the lake I think of all the times we went fishing together. But if I have learned one thing from this whole ordeal it is that life is short. Way too short. If we don’t grab this opportunity now then we may not get another chance for a couple more years. I personally think that the longer I stay here in Podunk the more miserable I will become. Then of course I wonder if I am being selfish.
I just feel like I’m in a holding pattern on my life. The plane I’m on makes big swooping circles around Charlotte and Savannah. That plane is sputtering and about to run out of gas though. It looks like we’ll be landing in Savannah. I’m scared about living a city life, although I've thought about nothing other than that life for quite some time. I’m ready for a change, and this may be just the thing that will alter our sails in the right direction.
Yes I’m happy. But the tears that keep forming in my eyes remind me of other happy times too. This is one time I can really use the term bitter sweet and mean it whole heartedly.
What’s a hard decision you've made lately? If you could move anywhere where would you choose? Do you take risks or like to stay safe?
W.P.I. - In Victorian times, certain flowers had specific meanings because the flower selection was limited and people used more symbols and gestures to communicate than words. I think I will get my niece (Shawn’s daughter) some Forget-Me-Nots, Larkspur, which means beautiful spirit, or Pansies which mean loving thoughts.