Sunday, January 29, 2006

"So Long and Goodnight."

No, this isn't the end of the blog. It's a lyric from My Chemical Romance's song "Helena".

Let me back up.

Two nights ago I had an incredibly lucid dream. I was laying on a brand new Sleep Number bed, that I'd bought with some of the flood reimbursement. I could have sworn I was sleeping downstairs in my finished bedroom, not tossing and turning on a cheap air mattress on my office floor. I opened my eyes and the clock radio said 4:59AM. I heard raspy breathing - the kind I'd listened to for the last three hours of Sam's life. The sickly attempt to gulp oxygen into a body that is shutting down.

I knew it was her. I knew Sam was laying next to me in the bed. She was sick, but at least she was alive. I rolled over and saw her as she'd been the few days prior to her last - shaved head (hair partially grown back), sunken cheeks, huge dark circles under her eyes. But it was her! I tried to sit up, but my body was sluggish and unresponsive. I kept trying to yell out, "Sam, is it you? Sam, is it you?" but my vocal chords were paralyzed. I wanted to embrace her and just hold her living body once more. To feel as she felt the night of April 11th, not the morning of April 12th. When she was still warm and alive.

And as I clumsily moved in closer to hold her, her eyes snapped open with a look of abject terror and astonishment. It scared me awake immediately.

So imagine my surprise when I was flipping through the music channels this morning and caught the video for "Helena", in which mourners at a young woman's funeral are caught up in their own grief and don't notice her rise from the open casket and engage in a final celebratory dance before she falls back into the box and is carried away by the band, all pallbearers.

Now keep in mind, I'm not a big fan of MCR, or of emo in general. It's like goth went back in time and mated with the early guitar-based new wave from the late '70s and this was its unholy spawn. Also keep in mind that I had the dream before seeing the music video. But now I can't shake the image of Sam's astonished wide-eyed look, remarkably similar to this...

What's the worst thing I could say?
Things are better if I stay
So long and goodnight
So long not goodnight

This also came right after I'd heard that the new cultural center (at which the Pandemonium Players will be anchor tenants) will be dedicating the light booth to Sam. We thought it might just be her name on the back of a seat. But this is the whole booth. Lights and audio control, where she spent much time in her last eight years at various theaters around Seattle. A fitting honor for a dedicated thespian.

She would have loved the production of Sleeping Beauty we saw at the Seattle Children's Theater tonight. I'll link to a review over at Manic Lobster later... right now I'm exhausted and children must be awoken bright and early.

Life marches on.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Mach Five toward the Cinderblock Wall...

...with my hair on fire. And that Looney Tunes sound effect of the jet aircraft whooshing at the ground.

Relived Sam's last days with the Gilda's group last night. Compared notes. Another wound-searing in the greatest Highland tradition. After the holidays spent un-coupled, I decided to say the hell with it and just go out and be sociable. Since I'm working in my office and sleeping in it too, the only way to get my ass out of the house at all is just to do it. Casual coffee & lunch dates are the extent of what I'm after; just an excuse to relate to a female of the species and NOT SIT IN MY OFFICE 24/7. I have plenty of female friends, but I guess I want to cast a slightly wider net. Or perhaps the fishing metaphor is not how I should be explaining this. Or perhaps I don't need to explain it at all.

In the words of Nada Surf:

Oh, fuck it
I'm gonna have a party

Got almost no sleep last night. Had to wrestle kids out the door while complained they were tiiiiiirrrred. Picking them up early for Tyler's med check and an exam of my ear canal - why the heck is styrofoam creaking around in there?? Then a counseling session for the three of us.

2 weeks 'til Sam's birthday (Feb 11). Not looking forward to that. Kayleigh wants to have a birthday party for mommy, so we'll likely observe the day in some celebratory fashion. Wheeee.

Anniversary home stretch, here we come.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Crawling Mightily Forward

"You're incredibly strong."
"You have amazing strength."
"I can't even begin to imagine what you've been through..."

Well that's true. Hell, I can't begin to imagine, and I've been in the middle of it all. I think it is by definition unimaginable. But I'm not strong. I'm not amazing. I'm just doing the best I can under shitty circumstances. That's really all there is to it. If the kids were not a factor, it would have been done with on April 12th. A two-for-one special.

But then there would have been no blog to give others insight. There would have been no continuation of my unique vision of Sam's memory. I wouldn't be able to see what happens next. As I wrote in the first draft of Damn These Ruby Slippers: "It's not that I'm scared to leave - it's that I'm driven to stay." I guess I really need to see whodunnit. And ultimately, it doesn't matter why I didn't gulp down the gross of morphine we had laying around for Sam's pain management. The kids are a more than adequate reason, as is my morbid curiosity to see how it all turns out. My instinct tells me there is a persistence of energy as yet undefined by science, and I have every reason to believe that I will have my questions answered when I cross the threshold. Let's hope that's not for some time yet.

Don't let the somewhat somber tone of this post scare you. I'm not depressed, and miles away from the momentary suicidal consideration that ran through my head at 5:01AM April 12, 2005. Just rummaging through stuff. Feeling introspective. Had yet another dream about Sam. More PG tender hugs and kisses. I don't want those dreams to end. They put me totally at peace.

RestorX has continued with the tearout. And here's a concept - they actually used a chalk line to guide them when cutting the drywall, as opposed to hacking a haphazard wave with a drywall saw. Awesome. I'm interested in getting this mofo DONE, thank you. Looks like construction can begin by the end of next week. Hallelujah. Also thinking that I will radically alter the color scheme in the master bedroom. Since we moved into the room, it was a blue scheme: sea blue carpet, sky blue walls and ceiling, navy blue comforter on the bed, with clouds hand-painted by yours truly at Samantha's request. The clouds were for her, and I don't think they belong in there now. I'm thinking a wine colored carpet, with red-browns in various shades on the walls and ceiling. When I had my sweetie to keep me warm, blue was a nice, calming color to have in there. Colors in the red spectrum are a bit more masculine and will warm things up. And I'll hang up my art nouveau prints (I have an absinthe ad and a really beautiful Alphonse Mucha). Heck, maybe I should just get a brass bell and a ship's wheel, mount a moose head above the bed and call it a day.

Watched a couple DVDs. Must Love Dogs. Comic Book: The Movie (for Caleb's benefit). I think Absolute Beginners triggered the introspection. I hadn't seen it in awhile and it was one of the first movies Sam and I saw together. We were both fans of the soundtrack and the production design, even if the film itself was a patchwork extended music video (to be expected from director Julien Temple). I'll do a writeup on the other films over at Manic Lobster.

I've started to let select people have a look at Ordinary Angels. It's still in first draft form, so I don't want it out among the general public, but it's generating some really excellent feedback so far.

The dog trainer came over today and got us started on Wiley's edjumacation. He's a really smart, sweet dog, so I'm having second thoughts on my second thoughts. If he improves like he did in just one hour of working this morning, he can stay indefinitely.

Hoping to do coffee with Ron tomorrow morning. Took some to my neighbor Darlene today (she's very kindly doing our laundry until we get our new washer and dryer - and a laundry room to put it in), and her giant ursine shepherd beast (known as Kodiak Bear Dog) hardly barked at me. Good sign. And the cat (Sage Good Times Blue Shark Ranger) actually not only acknowledged my presence, but also played soccer with me and a foam cat toy. Darlene's having a Year of the Dog party next week, which should be fun.

That's all for now. I'll leave you with Colin Hay's beautiful song from Garden State, one of my favorite films...

I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You

I drink good coffee every morning
Comes from a place that's far away
And when I'm done I feel like talking
Without you here there is less to say

I don't want you thinking I'm unhappy
What is closer to the truth
That if I lived till I was a hundred and two
I just don't think I'll ever get over you

I'm no longer moved to drink strong whisky
'Cause I shook the hand of time and I knew
That if I lived till I could no longer climb my stairs
I just don't think I'll ever get over you

Your face it dances and it haunts me
Your laughter's still ringing in my ears
I still find pieces of your presence here
Even after all these years

But I don't want you thinking I don't get asked to dinner
'Cause I'm here to say that I sometimes do
Even though I may soon feel the touch of love
I just don't think I'll ever get over you

If I lived till I was a hundred and two
I just don't think I'll ever get over you

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Just Stuff

I spent most of today sorting through the bags of contaminated clothing and sundry bits with the gals from RestorX. The city adjusters were not thrilled with how 1-800-Water Damage had left things when they said they were done. So now RestorX is out here, bagging up stuff that can be cleaned, carting away contaminated stuff that can't be saved, and cataloguing absolutely everything (something that fell completely to me with the former company, although I'm still monitoring stuff with RestorX).

Among the things that were logged and thrown in bags to go to the dump: my wool Baja sweater from my trip to Mexico with Randy in 1989; a woven wool blanket from the same trip; a couple of Sam's favorite sweaters that now no one can use; a chronicle of my teens and twenties in the form of all my concert T-shirts (Marillion, Berlin, Missing Persons, Love & Rockets (x2), Stranglers, Howard Jones, The Cure, David Bowie, Concrete Blonde, The Rise, Autumn Cathedral, Xymox, Lollapalooza 1 & 2 - most of which I saw with Sam) and cast shirts from South Pacific, Inherit the Wind and Fiddler on the Roof. In fact, all of our Deep7 corporate logo shirts were tossed, as was all my Zingo logo gear. More original art, play posters from high school and college (all irreplaceable), art prints (including a few old Frazzettas). My collection of high school and college newspapers featuring my Zingo comic strip. Souvenirs from our honeymoon in the UK. Stuffed animals from my childhood. Pajamas and robes from Sam's last months. A box of college correspondence and love letters we sent to each other over the 20 years we spent together, and a bunch of photos they will try to save with a paper-safe chemical process.

And then, in the midst of everything, laying in some muck on the carport floor, a plastic hospital bracelet, the last accessory Sam ever wore.

I 952999 (SSN)
02/11/67 27 F FC/ D
MRN- 494201 TITLE:

To Swedish Hospital Providence Campus personnel, that was Sam. Not the creative dynamo, the restless spirit, the mom, the wife, the muse. Not the theater maven. Not the better half of the four-legged spazzmatron known as ToddSam. Just another poor young woman afflicted with a rare cancer that was eating her liver alive. Of course, I know better - know her better. I know who and what she was, and keep that alive in some small way every day. And as I watched all of that history get bagged up for the landfill, it occurred to me that although it symbolized the history, it is not actual history. I still have the memories.

It's just stuff.

Nothing changes the life I had with Sam. It's done. It was challenging and wonderful and adventurous and loving, each in its own part, and at the end of the day what matters is that I'd live it all over again if I could, even knowing what awaits. Watching that stuff get carted away left me with a whole other emotion: relief.

In a way, I'm really glad that stuff isn't around anymore. For what it's worth, I can approximate a fresh start without a lot of anchors to the past. For a long time, I took pride in my past, and I felt it anchored me (in a positive way) to my youth. Although I feel pretty severed from that youth now, there's a freedom in it. And a curiosity as to what comes next.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Mile Marker Thirty-Eight

Caleb just composed this spoken word piece to be added to one of the songs being recorded for the And Tears Fell/Samantha Downing tribute CD, Requiem. It so perfectly sums up my life with Sam, juxtaposing a time when we were truly inseparable with a time when I am truly alone.

There is a child in everyone’s past
Mine was toe-headed
And always up for oatmeal
But until I met her
There was no child in my future

She was so beautiful to me
All hair and lips
And in between,
Those eyes
And I touched her all the time
To try and pay her back
For that time she touched my life forever

In a bench seat we broke 55 near Shasta
On the way to all that elsewhere
We had dreamed about
Back home in a teenage haze
Underneath pennants and posters
Kicking socked feet
Rolling breathless
On an old plaid comforter

And the first time our city’s lights
Bent their brilliant Braille upon our dashboard
A hand was squeezed
But just like the shot heard round the world
This sinewed trigger had no name
Just like before
Someone had to feel it first
And react

Now when I wake up every morning
Further along the continuum that is my life
The bench seat’s all in buckets
And to my brief surprise I’m all alone
I turn my head longingly back
And in my brains binoculars she’s sitting
Back at mile marker thirty-eight
Singing to me, “remember”
That, she and I are, for now, a then and there
That, she took a flight last year beyond the border
That, there, the road of life is an infinite kilometer
That, “You should see it this time of year
The way the leaves turn blue and purple
And never die”

- Caleb Long

Friday, January 13, 2006

Concrete Bed

A fitting title, given the whole sleeping on the couch situation. Thanks to Brian Chase for turning me onto this Nada Surf album, The Weight is a Gift. I was only familiar with their cover of OMD's 1980s anthem "If You Leave". This is the opening track, and it has a certain relevance to my current emotional state.

Concrete Bed

The world's locked up in your head
You've been pouring in a concrete bed
Your habits ossified
You don't realize you're fried, so fried

To find someone you love
You gotta be someone you love

The reason's somewhere in the timber
It takes years till it sinks in
You've used up the easy streets,
And you lost your taste for treats
You're so fried

To find someone you love
You gotta be someone you love
Stay high if you have to
Do whatever it asks you
You got another calling
Don't let it pass you

You know it cause you wrote it
You just didnt think you'd actually do it
It's just another wish you wished in a very long list

To find someone you love
You gotta be someone you love
To find someone you love
You gotta call your own bluff

P.S. Happy Birthday, Mom.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Where'd the Nav Bar Go?

Although today's title could be a fairly accurate analog for my life, it refers to the fact that apparently the navigation sidebar has gone missing. Don't know how or when, although it was working fine after I posted yesterday.

EDIT: The nav bar, as Lynnae pointed out, was actually there all the time. It was just lurking at the bottom of my somewhat verbose entry for yesterday - the width of the movie graphic had knocked the page layout off-kilter. All is well now.

Went to Gilda's last night. There are now more people who have lost spouses than any other relationship in that group. I can't (and won't) break confidentiality by talking specifics, but there was a lot of discussion of coping through the holidays and distribution of the spouse's clothing and other possessions to family members. I got some good pointers on donating Sam's underthings to various women's shelters in the area. I had wondered about that. Not like I'd want to give her intimates to any of my female relatives, nor would they want them. But if a woman has to leave an abusive relationship, like NOW, without the benefit of packing a bag, and she can get temporary use from some of Sam's PJs and underwear, I think that's a good thing. Sam would approve. Between Kayleigh and the theater group's costume department, I think the rest of the stuff will be spoken for.

Put the kids to bed and watched a bit of the new Red Dwarf series 7 DVD on the portable player, then nodded off and dreamed of my grandfather. This is my mom's father, affectionately known as "Opa", as my mom's parents were the ones to come visit in Germany right after I was born (so they got the German names for grandmother and grandfather). He was raised on a walnut farm in southern California, was a Naval officer in the Pacific theater during WWII, an educator, Presbyterian church founder and all around upstanding citizen. At 89, he's still sharp as a tack and possessed of the wry family humor I inherited, despite diminished vision and hearing. He composes original limericks and poems, especially on the subject of new friends he meets. He's always got a hug or a pun for you (trust me - take the hug!). He recently walked around with a burst appendix for a week before doctors figured out what was wrong with him and removed it. The man is an icon to me.

In the dream, we were in a doctor's office. He was sitting on the edge of the exam table, and the doctor was just finishing up his exam. I approached him and hugged him tight, and told him I loved him. Then suddenly he wasn't Opa anymore. He was my grandpa Ken, my dad's father who died in 1984. I just continued to hold him as he changed again, into my dad. It was as if I was communing with all three of forefathers back two generations, like I was inherently aware of the genetic and psychological history and how I was the product of it all. It was a real 2001: A Space Odyssey sequence, for sure. There was some mention of "moving on", and I couldn't tell if it was Ken or my dad saying it. And regardless of whether one takes this kind of message as being figurative (i.e. I'm the one "moving on") or literal (their spirit is transitioning to a higher existence or whatever), it's not always something one wants to hear.

So the recap is that I am a bit disturbed that my living grandfather appeared in a dream with my deceased father and grandfather, but I get the larger context. It wasn't about him specifically - it was about continuity through the generations. And in that context, the dream was comforting. I awoke happy and ready to hit the day running.

The water damage guys left an ozone generator going downstairs to kill any remaining bacteria and mold spores. I realize it's just oxygen with an extra O molecule, but when it began smelling like bleach upstairs, I knew it was time to shut it off. The adjuster comes back to tour the street tomorrow. Hopefully then the actual reconstruction will start. I want a real bed to sleep in.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Movie of Todd

Thanks, Gavin... Now I know what's wrong with me.!

Take this quiz at

Gypsies Maybe?

So if I wanted to sell my children to Gypsies, would I look under G in the Yellow Pages? Do Gypsies even buy children anymore? Did they ever, or was that just a cheap parental threat, like the boogeyman or communists?

Just kidding of course. I would never sell my children to Gypsies. Now if there were still Visigoths, I might entertain an offer. But they go as a pair - no breaking up the set.

It's been one of those mornings. You parents know the mornings I'm talking about. "Get up, it's time to get up. Come on, let's go. Get to the table. I said get to the table. I said get to the table. Get. To. The. Table. Clear your place and get your shoes and socks on. Tyler, get your socks on. Socks, Tyler. Right in front of you. [five minutes later] Tyler, quit goofing off and get your socks on." Ugh. Okay, I know from having been a kid that there is an inherent amount of convenient deafness and ignorance when it comes to interaction with parents. As Bill Cosby would say, "children, y'see, they got the brain damage." But honest to God, ask my mother - I was NEVER that bad. I mean, there's really no excuse to have to be told ten freakin' times to put on your socks when you're eleven years old. Mom, did you ever have to tell me TEN times to do anything reasonable?

So I will have my tea, grab a shower, and repeat the mantra: "I love my children." And all will be well. Because this too shall pass.

Children. Can't live with 'em, can't sell 'em to Gypsies.

Or Visigoths.

Anyhoo, the tear-out on the basement is done. No more stinky, no more fixtures, doors, furniture, or anything else. Ironically, the flooding never touched our raised closet in the master bedroom, so all Sam's clothes I was planning on bagging up were the only things left untouched by the whole flood/demolition process. Guess I should bag them up now before the contractor gets started with the rennovation.

The cat is now getting braver and will actually come up on the couch for purring, snuggling and head scritches - but only when she's sure Wiley is crated.

We have Gilda's tonight. Looking forward to venting a bit. Been fending off a migraine for 2 days now - I should get a nap at some point... that may help. Sleeping on the couch is hell on my spine, and having the kids on air mattresses on the floor with no privacy and a whole house worth of clothing and rescued linens, boxes and furniture in HALF the space is getting really old really fast.

The West Seattle Herald ran a story on the flood damage: Online version here. Aside from the reporter getting the month of Sam's death wrong (April, not July), he also mangled a pretty straightforward and articulate quote. "I always try to find some light in the darkness - these things can often be gifts in disguise" became, "It's all about looking for the hundreds of gifts that come from things like this". What does that even mean?? It sounds like I'm some greedy bastard trying to find Christmas prezzies or charity.

Stupid freedom of the press.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


I ran across this in some computer archives, written in January 2000. Kayleigh would have been about 2-1/2, Tyler almost 6...


I’ll be able to eat a hot meal.
I won’t have to break up fights.
I’ll clean my house and it will stay that way for more than 5 minutes.
I can take out and display all those breakable things I’ve put away in boxes.

I’ll be able to cook one meal, and everyone will eat it.
I won’t have that ever-present smell of diapers in the house.
I’ll take a bath all by myself, and no one will bang on the door yelling “MOMMY!”
I can sit down and read a book that doesn’t start with “Once upon a time”.

I won’t be able to steal all the kisses I want.
I will have to remember how to laugh alone.
I won’t hear a little voice saying “I love you DIS much!”
I can’t hold a little one in my lap and watch them sleep, just because.

I hope someday doesn’t come too soon.

–Samantha Downing

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hello, New Year.

Here we are on the other side of the 3-day federal holiday. The day started with trying to get the kids to the bus after having two weeks of non-scheduled do-what-we-wanna. It wasn't too bad. They both made it to the bus with minimal gnashing of teeth and no discernable bloodshed.

Then the city adjuster and the field adjuster came out and poked around my ground floor with about six dudes representing various contractors to bid on the work happening all down our street. All the carpet is gone, plus the vinyl, toilet and sink from the kids' bathroom, plus about 2 feet of drywall from every wall. In taking down the drywall in Kayleigh's room, we discovered 1" thick solid pine paneling underneath. Evidently there was a finished room down there before the last owners covered it up. Despite the drywall screw holes in it (which can be steamed shut), it's in lovely condition, and K wants to keep it. We also found an uncapped drain that had been covered by the carpet the previous owners had put down. Crazy. But since we're adding the door downstairs for access to the carport, we will probably replace the carpet with vinyl down that whole hallway (since it also includes our laundry facility).

Took down the Christmas tree this morning, put away all the ornaments. Put on the new Kate Bush. Had a nice weep. First holidays without Sam and my dad are over. Putting more time and distance between where I was when they were in my life and where I'm going now that they aren't.

Had another Sam dream last night. Won't go into specifics, due to content. Most folks would probably assume I'd be having "those" kinds of dreams about my late wife, to kind of stave off the skin hunger. Actually I only ever had one of "those" dreams about Sam, when I was 18 and she was on a long vacation with her grandmother (back in the days when we were rutting like rabbits). To be sure, I have had several dreams about Samantha since her death, some of them quasi-erotic in nature, but they're never the typical adolescent wet dream; they're always much more deeply emotionally-rooted. It's cuddling, kissing, holding onto each other as if we knew to let go meant more than a temporary parting. It was the way in which we connected from the moment she was diagnosed. We lived and loved more fully, freely and deeply in those two and a half years than in the prior two decades. If I had to name my single largest regret, it would be that it took cancer to break us free of whatever held us back, whatever holds most people back.

In any case, the dream had to do with the two of us getting ready to go somewhere, but instead (as was so often the case) found ourselves rolling around on the bed. It was just PG-rated kissing and hugging, but damnit it was so vivid - I could feel her, hear her voice (the tone and the words that only I got to hear). I could smell her. Do you know how long it's been since I've been able to actually catch her scent on anything?

Sam put on a tough exterior much of the time. She adopted the online handle of Cast Iron Bitch, and most of the time it was quite fitting. She admitted (and even reveled in) the fact that she was strong, suffered no fools, spoke her mind and didn't worry about diplomacy too much. Many people could find her abrasive. And yet, if you got to know her... if she trusted you... you'd be let in past the moat and the spiked pit traps and the alligator pits, and she'd show you a whole different person. A woman who was soft-spoken and loving and kind, extremely funny, nurturing and generous, and vulnerable. And I think until her diagnosis in 2002, I was one of the few who got to see that vulnerability. But then again, I was rarely the object of her Cast Iron Bitch persona - from the time she set her sights on me in high school, with few exceptions, I was a VIP in the fortress.

I wish more people had known her other, softer side. Since cancer really forced that side of her to the forefront, she ended up embracing people at first meeting, rather than holding them at bay until she'd figured out the whole trust issue. She made a lot of friends in the cancer community, right up until the end. Somewhere in the back of my mind, there is the wish that her cancer had gone into remission, that she hadn't died, and that we would move forward into a new chapter of our life together, armed with the lessons of cancer, taking nothing for granted from this "near miss". But that would have been a very different lesson, a very different experience.

I'm in the home stretch now. Sam's birthday is 2/11, my dad's is 2/27. Then we have Easter and the anniversary of Sam's death on 4/12, and dad's on 5/30. After that, it's familiar territory. The flood is forcing change and renewal, and that's not a bad thing at all.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Thanks, Baby.

Had a nice visit from Sam last night. Dreamed Kayleigh and I were on a school bus which was waiting to take us on a field trip. Samantha boarded the bus, appearing as her younger self, around K's age (which was likely more appropriate to the setting). She sat in the seat in front of us, but immediately turned around and smiled. I asked Kayleigh, "you recognize your mom?", but my daughter was already launching forward to hug Sam.

Sam looked at me from her little girl face, and the sun caught her hazel eyes in just the right way. Those were the eyes I knew. Lethal to me, those eyes. I started tearing up in the dream, leaned forward so our foreheads touched, and whispered in her ear, "you know I love you... always." She whispered back, "I love you too."

The dream immediately changed locales, to an enormous house that resembled a cross between a department store and a Southern plantation home. I wandered through the rooms, sometimes catching a glimpse of adult Sam as she bustled here and there, talking excitedly about some trip she was packing for. The trip she was going to leave on soon. I was not down with that plan, if it included being separated from her, even in dreams. She assured me it would be fine - I would be fine.

Then she was gone, and a couple guys I didn't know were assessing flood damage (big surprise, as my whole LIFE has been assessing flood damage all week), and they started tearing down entire stairways and walls. But when they started on this one stairway that led back into the part of the house where Sam had been, I protested. "You can't just tear this stuff down wholesale," I warned. "You're blocking us off into one wing of the house if you don't leave any egress."

They left the one set of stairs.

So, I guess Sam goes on her trip, and I keep working on fixing my "home", being sure not to close off all avenues to those memories of the woman I spent more than half my life with - there should always be one staircase left open, just in case. I don't have to live in those rooms, but they need to be left alone and not torn down. Knowing that section of the "house" is still there gives me comfort.

And, I know I haven't mentioned it much, mostly because I haven't really seen my dad in a dream recently, but happy anniversary, Pop.