Realizations and Renovations

It’s been hard to write lately. Life has been changing so rapidly, I have barely had time to blink before the way I feel about everything shifts, and I’m confused all over again. 

I hate to sound like a brat, but 2020 was supposed to be our year….well, shit. After over three years of living life under the fear and restrictions of having a child in treatment for Leukemia, we were just about to be set free. We’d been a family of caged birds since December of 2016, and, essentially, the exact day we were to be set free, this global pandemic clipped our wings and put us back into another cage. In some weird ways it was comfortable; it was what we knew, but, in other ways, it’s been sad and frustrating. 

So…instead of focusing on being forced to stay home again, we bought a new house. The house is awesome, so bear with me when I say I’m not complaining, BUT buying a house, selling a house, moving, staying at Mike’s mother Rita’s house for five weeks while our house was still unlivable (Rita very generously let us have her home while she stayed with our dear friend Nancy Shea) and then moving again from there into our new house, yet still living through daily, ongoing, loud renovations with no privacy or downtime has made me feel crazier than a June bug. 

I won’t lie, this has all been hard for me. My anxiety has gotten the better of me at times. Between the moving, the renovating, the remote learning, the fucking remote learning, the pandemic, and an 18-month-old, there is so much of my life that feels so far out of my own control, it’s been hard to find a rhythm. I’m a person who likes a plan, who loves being able to predict and anticipate what’s next but, lately, I have been like a rogue feather, floating through the sky, being pulled and pushed around by various forces of nature; I will inevitably land at some point and I will feel safe once I’ve reached the ground, but it’s hard to say exactly when I will get there. The stress and weight of it all has been a lot to carry, and I am not ashamed to say how tough life has felt this year. I’ve had physical manifestations of anxiety and stress including an eye condition called Central Serous Retinopathy that distorted the vision in my right eye and scared me to high heavens. Thank God it has almost totally resolved, but has been very nerve-wracking.

Looking at the bigger picture, however, we really are great. Calum is as healthy as we have seen him in over four years. It is incredible to see how much has changed for him since ending treatment on March 2nd. He has so much more energy, he hasn’t thrown up in the morning in almost seven months, his hair is soft again, and he LIKES chicken! He’s killing it in first grade and just turned seven in November. 

Faye, now five, is a spark plug as usual. She is insanely driven. She wants to be older and smarter and stronger than everyone. She was torpedoed into utter devastation when I was forced to tell her that, no matter how hard she tried, she would never be older than Cal. If you see her, don’t bring it up – touchy subject. Still determined to “olden” herself, however, she spends countless hours sounding out letters and writing the alphabet and asks to be quizzed on math every day. She is eager; she is fire. 

Luke, as mentioned, is 18 months old. In so many ways our frustrations are twinning. There is so much he wants to do that is out of his control. So many feelings to express, but not enough of the right tools. Constantly moving and worn out, but happy. He’s a love. Of my accomplishments, I think he is my greatest. I didn’t know if I’d have the strength to bring him here, but here he is. I still look at him in true wonder every day. 

Mike and I recently had our ninth wedding anniversary. I can’t say whether it’s gone by lightning fast or if our wedding day feels like forever and a day ago. All I know is that I’m proud of us, our strong love and respect for each other, and I’m really proud to be married to him. Our marriage is the one thing I have felt has been consistent over the years and the challenges, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. 

The work is almost finished on the inside of the new house. Renovated bathrooms, fully face-lifted kitchen, refurbished floors, new hardware, electric, doors, paint, décor, and 30 new windows later, we are about to have the working crew FINALLY out of the inside of this house. Our new roof is on, so the patching and replacing of the old shingles outdoors can begin. I have developed quite the relationship with our contractor, Ernie. Ernie is a stout, rough and tumble Italian from Queens who had some medium-level involvement with the mob back in the day – some of are relatives of his, so he would get pulled into odd jobs here and there. I don’t know nuthin, but let’s just say the mortgage on his house of fucks to give is paid in full. Over the last several months, we have visited many under-the-radar plumbing, tile and stone places out in Queens. I would keep my sunglasses on so as to conceal my excitement for being outside of the house, wheeling and dealing with other rough and tumble small business owners. I am good at it. He even took me to the Harley Davidson store with him one day while he haggled with the clerk over a new motorcycle for his son in law. Ernie was wearing sweatpants held up by camouflaged suspenders and a sweatshirt underneath. I wore a straight face, trying to look tough, yet chuckling all the while on the inside. I will say those motorcycles are quite beautiful – like thoroughbred horses built of machinery. 

Today I was speaking with Ernie about getting started on the outside of the house when he asked me what I thought about him getting “The Greek” to come work with him. 

He said, “Cait, whaddaya think about me bringing in The Greek?” 

I said, “Ernie, how long have you known The Greek?” 

And he said, “bout 40 years or so,” 

So I said, “Ok, sounds good. Call him up.”

He said, “He’s gonna be thrilled.” 

I feel like it will be a good thing to have a guy who goes by “The Greek” being thrilled with us. I told yous, I am good at this. 

(Ernie is presently singing “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree” on my front lawn at the top of his lungs.)

I’m trying to take my life lessons and apply them to my inner fabric. Intellectually, I know what I need to do, but applying it is so much harder. I want to be a person who is able to live in the moment. I want to appreciate exactly where I am without worrying so much about bad things happening again. I am predisposed to feeling anxious and I guess I am still scarred by what happened to Calum. Sometimes I think I am addicted to living in a state of “fright or flight”, but I am tired and want to sit still a little while. The skill of living in the moment is easier said than done. I’m always working on it.

3 thoughts on “Realizations and Renovations

  1. Sounds like you found the absolute perfect builder- a guy who belts out songs at the top of his lungs! Congrats on the new house and fresh start! Can’t wait to see what the Murrays are gonna cook up fo Christmas


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