The doodles, excited to be with us and at home for a few hours.
Sunday marked two months since Johnny passed, in some respects it seems like it's been forever, in other ways, it feels like yesterday. Most of the time I can't even understand what happened to us or what's going on, but I'm learning this is our new reality.
When hurricane Ike hit I didn't have A CLUE what it was like to be on the 'outside'. Texas Children's had water, electricity, cable and wireless Internet. The day after Ike, Mike came to visit Johnny and I at the hospital, I expected to have our usual 'shift change', but Mike looked at me like I was crazy and said, "We're not switching out, I just came to tell you I'm taking the kids and dogs to Kathleen's house until Houston is up and running again." I didn't leave the hospital until Johnny passed away 10 days later and our life was far from normal -- my parents were the only people we knew who had electricity (most hotels didn't even have that much!), so that's how we ended up on their doorstep.
In a way, Ike was a blessing for us because we were forced to be with people --specifically family. Not that we force ourselves to be with our families, but the house in Galveston is 11 miles from the thriving metropolis of Galveston proper and 80 miles from our family -- who we really needed the most. If Ike didn't hit and Johnny passed, we would have gone back home and I know I wouldn't have gotten out of bed, showered, or gone past the driveway, let alone 'socialize' with people 11 miles away. This used to be our old neighborhood, so we have all the same friends and every person in our family is a 10-30 minute drive -- max. As much as I know we would all like to be 'at home', we really needed to be with family and friends the past two months.
We've always had intentions of moving back to the Island, and decided the best time would be during Christmas break so the kids can start the new semester in Galveston. Our house still isn't even close to being livable. Luckily though, we will stay at my parents beach house in the same neighborhood while ours is being fixed. To be honest, fixing the house and dealing with insurance hasn't been a huge priority. But as it gets closer for us to move back, we are focusing on the mountains of paperwork and adjusters we've been ignoring for so long. That's when it occurred to me -- reality bites.
This is the boys room. It was hard for Joey to walk in the room he shared with Johnny for so long -- they always shared a room, even when they didn't have too. He shed a few tears when he saw the shape it's in.
We've been lucky enough to avoid as much reality as possible -- staying with my parents, yes, my mom does our wash, the doodles are with Mike's mom, but nothing says, 'this is your new reality', because it's all temporary. Moving back home seemed so far away and as long as we avoided fixing the house, our 'temporary' life could last a little bit longer. Sunday Mike and Joey went to the house to clean up the yard. I decided to go and drop off a few things, and assess the inside of the house again.
As I drove closer to the Island I noticed the boats that were lying on the side of the road were gone -- and both sides of the new causeway were open, as well as a few more restaurants and shops. Once on the Island, there are still boats on top of cars and in parking lots, but for the most part it looks like Galveston is on the road to recovery. On this trip I realized things were different and we were one step closer to moving back, without Johnny.
Cooper is in Kindergarten and is Sophie's best friend. When he saw me pull up, he ran to me and gave me a big bear hug!
At the house I saw Mike, Joey, Kendall and Cooper chopping down oleanders. Kids were riding bikes and skating down the street. Neighbors came by to say hi and ask when we were coming back. As I unloaded the car, I tried to find a place in the house to put everything. It was too overwhelming, so I just threw it on the floor. If you don't know by now, I have issues. I need to have things in complete order, I hate piles, I label just about everything with my handy-dandy labeling machine and like everything in it's place. And, well, our house is the exact opposite. I know it can be fixed and cleaned up -- shit, I didn't lift a finger to get the house this far -- it was Mike, Rhonda, David, Wes and Mike's Mom with her friends/clean up crew from her office.
I wish the storm washed away our house. I mean, I am grateful we still have something to go back to, really. Believe it or not I can look past the destruction and mess, I actually envision the house back to normal. That's when reality bites. I can see us six months from now sitting around the dinner table with one empty chair, or getting ready for school without Johnny yelling at us to hurry up, I see an empty driveway with no ramps or little skaters or bikers, I see an empty bed and dresser, I see Johnny's peeps patrolling the neighborhood without him. It is our new reality, much sooner than I wanted. I don't like it one bit. It sucks the big one.
That's why I wanted the house to wash away. We would get to start completely from scratch -- everything would be new and the everyday reminders of life without Johnny would be a tiny bit less in our face. Now when we go home I will think about the last time I saw Johnny in his bed, or in mine, or walking up the stairs, or finding something to eat in the pantry or running through the yard. I am already painfully aware Johnny isn't with us anymore, I just wish I didn't have to be reminded of it over and over again.