Tuesday, May 18, 2021

When life gives lemons

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We are in the midst of a bit of upheaval at the moment, and I tend to start questioning life in general when big changes or problems occur. I start to wonder the whys of things and what it is I am supposed to learn from the situation. Sometimes, there are answers, if I look hard enough, and other times it equates to more of a random sequence of events that is taking place that could happen to anyone. 

One of the unfortunate big happenings recently was discovering that our sewer line was collapsing. We had been having some drainage problems in the tub and sometimes with the toilet, but thought that the problems stemmed from a weeping pipe under the tub and some hair (mine/dogs) that likes to get stuck in the drain. After several attempts to resolve the issue, a plumber was called out at which point we were informed that the 60+ year old clay sewer line was cracked, shifting, collapsing, and likely wouldn't last longer than a few more weeks to perhaps a couple of months, if we were lucky. 

I was working in my studio when Sam came in to tell me the news. "Sixteen to twenty-two," he said would be the cost of replacing the line in the least expensive manner. 

"Well, it could be worse, I suppose," I responded with a slight facial twinge and shoulder shrug.  "That's a lot of money, but I guess we can figure it'll end up at about twenty-five hundred, just in case, and we'll eat lighter for awhile."

Sam looked at me a bit bewildered and then said, "No, THOUSAND, not hundred."

I gulped as my eyes widened. "You have to be kidding me? Why would it cost that much? It's a pipe.... in the ground... that's..." I trailed off for a few seconds. "It's... that's... a car... a down payment on a house... SO many bicycles ... it's..." I was still trying to understand how a single run of pipe could be so much money. "How do we even pay for something like that?" I questioned aloud. "How does anyone cover that sort of cost?"

We talked for awhile about the whys, the hows, and so on. We'd had the sewer scoped when we moved in over six years ago and it was "perfect," as the plumber had told and shown us, but things happen over time. Our temperatures fluctuate day to day a lot in Colorado and we have seasons of drought and then severe wet, which isn't ideal for a clay line, and certainly not one of this vintage. Whether we were prepared to deal with the issue was not a matter of debate. We just had to figure out how to resolve it and how we would financially handle such a huge amount at one time.

Generally, we are do-it-yourself kind of people, and if we are able to do so, we prefer to go that route, but this was not an instance for which we would be able to handle matters on our own, and the costs associated with not being able to perform the repair ourselves was not helping the mental struggle.

I was watching a brief segment on a home fix-it show recently and the individual said in the most blissful tone, "I feel like my life is just the best dream ever!" and it struck me because it's rare to hear someone claim that s/he believes their life is so fantastic that it feels like a dream. I started to think about moments that have felt like a dream in my life, and sadly, most of them seem to lean more toward nightmares than good dreams. Inevitably, this makes me wonder if I did something wrong and that the unfortunate moments are a result of my bad behavior -- that karmicly I have somehow brought about the misfortune. I have no delusions of being a saint, and I've perpetrated many wrongs over my multiple decades of life, but is there really a cause and effect, or is it simply a perception, a means of coping for humans that prompts us to look for a relationship in all things? 

When I look at matters from another angle though, I think about the fact that we are fortunate to be able to do many things for ourselves. So often it feels like life is throwing fire darts and we are weaving and dodging to steer clear; but in reality, if the same obstacles were presented to another person, they could be completely catastrophic. Even though I've dealt with some pretty horrendous moments in life, some of which I thought I'd never survive, I have managed to come through the other side relatively unscathed - or at least better off than some others might have.

It has been a rough few weeks at our house. The sewer line was replaced, but it came with a hefty price tag. The damage created in the yard was more significant than we anticipated, so of course, that had to be dealt with as well. 

Last week, we were also scheduled to say goodbye to our nearly-fifteen year old Labrador, who has endured so much longer than we ever thought she could, but I just couldn't go through with it. The struggle of determining when she is ready to go, and how much she is suffering can be so difficult because our pups hide so much of what they're really going through. It is the part of pet guardianship that I dread. 

Unfortunately, early this week we had to actually say goodbye to our girl. I remembered from past experience that there is such sadness, but I had forgotten how empty I would feel. I look for her everywhere in the house, reach for her, thinking that she's going to brush by me, looking for a pat on the head or a scratch, and then remember she isn't there. We removed all of her dog beds because I didn't think I could handle seeing them empty without her, but even removing the reminder has been difficult. There is a giant hole in my heart and I can't seem to stop sobbing. I know that time will heal the pain, at least to some extent, but no matter how many fur-kids we lose, I never get used to the agony of their passing. For me, it is like losing a close member of the family.

I am grateful to still have our Golden-girl, and she is doing her very best to comfort us as she feels the loss of her housemate as well. It's during these rough times that I find myself wondering and thinking about the whys of life, my purpose, and the reasons for most everything in day-to-day life. Often, I am unable to come up with any explanations, but I still attempt to make some sort of sense and order of it. I get up each day and try to get through the little moments, knowing that there is ultimately better, good times in the future. Some moments are tougher than others, but if I can fumble my way through, hopefully, I'll come out the other side a better version of myself, with a few more experiences, and better able to understand it all.

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