This Will Be Known as the Worst Week of 2008

I stood in the kitchen this morning, Sunday March 9, 2008 and declared “This was and will be the worst week of this year!” It was a way of acknowledging the stress of the past week and promising that going forward the stressful weeks were over.

It started the Sunday prior. Raun drove down from Wisconsin to clean out his apartment and get it ready to sublet. I only had a few hours to help before I needed to head to work. As I walked to the bus I could not hold back the tears. Raun’s life was changing so quickly and so dramatically. This morning I was hit with the realization that we would not be here to assist. We would now begin the long distance relationship of Sunday phone calls and planning visits. We were no longer leaving him, he was leaving us.

That night as I sat in bed I wrote Raun a note. There have only been a few times in my life that I have cried from my soul. It’s a feeling so deep that it truly feels as if it is coming from your gut. In the past I’ve cried from my soul after I have lost someone very dear, this night was no different. I have a dear friend who reminds me; “we never get off the delivery table”. Our roles as parents change but they never really go away.

Monday is when we lost control of the purse strings. It was time to sign the contract to put the house on the market. Two thousand here, one thousand there, new kitchen floor, pending wedding expenses, move across the country. Today the rubber hit the road. Up until now this was all a plan, today it became a contract.

Tuesday required some prep work in the kitchen. The work on the new floor was to begin Wednesday morning. All the counter tops were cleared and stored on the dinning room table. The stove was unhooked which meant we would be eating out for then next two days.

Wednesday morning the installer arrived and began carrying in his tools, laid a runner of drop cloths through the condo and began work. It was only a short time into it that he called me in. With the age of our building, he was concerned that the floor tiles were asbestos. He said there was only one place in Chicago to have it tested but he could not remove the tiles until we were sure. I ran down to the basement storage unit. I knew we had a few extra tiles down there somewhere and was hoping that I could get my hands on them. I did and after a few phone calls we were cleared to begin work. The installer left that afternoon around 3pm. He would begin the installation in the morning.

Austyn came home that evening and we began to pack her things. She was going to be moving in April and we had decided that we would move her things into storage which would alleviate some of the pressure of doing it all at once. Once again we were feeling the pressure of all of the forthcoming changes.

Thursday was Jeff’s day to work from home while the kitchen floor was being worked on. At 11am he called me. None of the boxes of tiles matched and even within the boxes there were different colors and sizes. They were calling to get more but it would be morning before we had them. Meanwhile our small 2 bedroom condo was a disaster. There was only a path from the front door to the sofa to the bedrooms. Day three with no stove.

Austyn took Friday off and once again I received a call at 11am. There were no tiles in the country, we would have to pick out a new tile. Jeff and I are ‘do it ourselves’ kind of people. This was the first project that we hired someone from start to finish. We realized on this day that hiring out is just as much work as doing it ourselves. If I could leave work and head to Home Depot, they would be waiting for me and make sure that they could have all the supplies for Saturday.

Picking our tile is not the easiest decision for us. I am not a tile person. It is not my preference for a kitchen floor and I’m not going to be living here. It took three weeks for us to decide on the last one, now I should make a decision on the spot.

I left work, jumped in a taxi and headed to Halsted. Austyn would meet me there. I walked up to the service desk and asked, “Is Vince here?”. Three men turned their heads slowly and one finally said, “I’m Vince”. We made our introductions and off we went to the tile aisle.

“Too dark, too textured, too shiny, too peach, that’s nice. Yuck. What do you think about that one? Dad would hate that one. Too blah, too white….”

We grabbed four and walked over to the kitchen cabinet display. Fortunately they had a display that was very similar to our counter top and cabinets.

“That one is nice. That one looks like vomit. That works. That’s too peach. I like that one.” Back to the service desk to make sure it was in stock.

“Now what color grout do you want?”

Actually I don’t want any grout; I just want my stove back. We made our decision. After a few more phone calls and private conversations we were assured that we were all set and the tile would be there in the morning. We were finished.

Austyn and I stood up and made our way to the stairs. “What does that mean?” Austyn whispered.

“Well, they are giving us the new tile at no extra charge.” We looked at each other with big eyes and funny expressions and headed toward the door. This tile was almost three times the price of the original title we had selected.

That night as we returned from a gallery showing that Austyn was a part of we could not help but relive the day. Even though the time line had not gone as planned, the people that we encountered were all good people. Actually as we recalled everyone we have had contact with in the past few months, we realized that we have enjoyed working with each one. We have had some wonderful people cross our paths and it has helped to make this whole experience a little easier to deal with.

Friday night dinner was take out again. Early to bed, tomorrow we would be moving Austyn.  This was only Friday, there remained two days before this week would end.

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