So I left. I thought about. I struggled with the loneliness of the house every night when I would come home from work. The dog had died, too--in June of that year. So it was just me and a large, ugly 8" fish that Rory loved and who was named Oscar (i.e he was an Oscar fish, so that's what we had called him. He had started small but kept growing by eating up all of the other fish in the tank). As I thought about the winter ahead, I was afraid of all of the things that I didn't think I could handle--the cold house, the pipes that freeze in the kitchen in January, the snowblower that I didn't know how to work, hauling wood and starting fires in the woodstove (which I wasn't good at), and all the potential things that could break down. Worst of all, every inch of the house triggered some memory and some melancholy.
So I made the decision. I went against the wisdom of many who say that after your spouse dies, you should not make any major changes for at least a year. I decided to build; and, to do that, I needed to move out. It took enormous effort, but through the next couple of months, I cleaned out every nook and cranny of the house. Everyone helped me to make the move--my inlaws, my family, my friends. On the final day, it was like Christmas. Rory's brothers raided the garage to snag up equipment and tools they knew I would never use, and my sisters and daughters grabbed things from the house. Many items went to a storage unit down the road. Good Will, Habitat for Humanity, the recycling places around town, and an ever burning bonfire in the back got the rest.
It was a sunny Saturday at the end of November. We ended by gathering in a circle by the lake, and saying a prayer of goodbye--to the house and to Rory. Before he died, he requested that his ashes go into Lake Winnebago. Caroline, Colleen and I, paddled out in the canoe to a point that is in line with the Jesuit Retreat House, and dumped his ashes.. As we did that, a small engine plane appeared in the sky above the persons left on shore and hovered above them. A reminder of Rory, who loved flying.
|Rory liked to land the plane in our "backyard' on Lake Winnebago during the winter|