Erin's Journals

Monday, August 24, 2020

Just a thought… You can’t recognize true joy if you’ve never known heartbreak. Pain makes you stronger. Fear makes you braver. You can’t know hope if you’ve never known despair. [Eve Silver]

One month.

It was on this day in July that in a house we’d decorated for a festive “Christmas in July” theme, we counted the hours until our Ottawa family landed at our local airport.

In just days, tomorrow or the next, this sweet foursome will spend their first night in their new home. While they’ve had possession of the house for a little while and their truck arrived just over a week ago (minus a Dyson vacuum – the only real hiccup and one that we have slim hopes of being rectified), we’ve taken a slow but careful route in getting the house set up so that they feel like it’s a home. A big grocery shop happens today, and then we move pieces and suitcases in from our house to theirs.

What a luxury is a gradual move – one that Rob and I haven’t really had in all of our relocations! The best part of it, though, has been getting to know everyone in deeper ways that only living together can bring.

Brooke and I have experienced each other only through the briefest of whirlwind visits (ours to their home in Ottawa) and long, heartfelt phone conversations. During those times, I was always happy and positive; she hasn’t known me to be down or tired, frustrated or moody. Over the course of a month, she’s seen the real me.

The sullen moods and simmering frustration have resulted from the countless headaches we’ve encountered just trying to navigate the barbed-wired red tape that has come with selling a property in the US (IRS ramifications and COVID closures that have caused more legal headaches than anyone could have imagined), as well as more unexpected hassles like a broken-down fridge and beastly expensive repairs to an air conditioning system – you name it, it’s gone sideways over the past month. All of these things have kept us scrambling during the day and awake at night wondering how to get things done before the sale closes this week.

Of course, there’s a bright side there, too: a friend of my sister lives near our house in California (far from the fires, thank goodness) and dove in to help us get our personal possessions out. While we FaceTimed, she put aside the few belongings we wanted shipped home and has them boxed up and ready to send. There are angels among us, I’ll tell you, and I don’t know how we’d have managed this long distance move without her!

Over the past month, well-meaning family and friends have quietly asked how we’re faring with four extra people in our house. While there have been adjustments (pajamas for one thing!) it’s been a pleasure: from hearing the excited squeals of a baby and the pounding of Colin’s feet running the floors to cooking for a big family instead of just noshing at odd hours as Rob and I are wont to do; it’s all been an exercise, not so much in patience, but in pleasure.

Our place will be so much quieter come Wednesday evening, when we sit back and sigh with the satisfaction of knowing that their family is settling in, safe and sound, comfortable on a small street with friendly neighbours. The people we’ve met who live around them are a mix of retirees and young families just like theirs and we’re hoping that they find a friendly feeling of belonging to this street on this island in this new province sooner than later.

For us, I believe a sense of quiet and normalcy will set in as we come to realize that this past month wasn’t all a dream or just a visit after all. Sure, there was the dark backdrop of trying to make a difficult transaction happen in a place far away – something over which we felt little control at times – but in the forefront was joyful noise, music, games and the sense of play that comes with having little children in the house after so many years of it being “just us.”

Yet another new beginning awaits. How lucky we are in this year of uncertainty to have been given the gift of joy! Here we go.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, August 24, 2020