Hi Everyone! :wave:
I'm still here although I haven't been around much.
Some of you knew that I decided to make my (and the Partner's) move to Colorado permanent; I was able to make arrangements to take about a week and a half off from the Retail Emporium. I'd wanted more time but it wasn't allowed without a leave of absence.
In light of this, we decided to fly to Milwaukee, rent a car, drive to the UP (about 300 miles), spend a week packing the old monstrosity of a house (it hadn't been cleaned out for over 125 years so it was going to be a JOB) and rent a truck to drive the crap to Colorado.
The day before my 'vacation' started, I got a phone call at work from the Michigan State Police. My little brother had been found dead in his home that day. At least they'd had the courtesy to personally contact my Mom and not telephone her. (Little brother lived in the same county as myself.)
Since we had reservations for 36 hours later, we didn't change our plans, but I told the workplace about it and they told me that I could take a few extra days off.
We got in late, late Friday night July 8 (actually 4 AM Saturday). I got a few hours sleep, jumped in the rental car (at least I didn't have to pack) and drove the 100 miles to see Mom. We spent the day together (Mom was a bit shellshocked) and I stayed the night. Drove back to the hometown Sunday morning and started sorting and packing. Realized the 16 foot truck we'd reserved was way, way inadequate, we upped the reservation to the 26 footer.
Monday AM Mom came up and we went to the Funeral Home and made arrangements for my little brother. We then went over to his house because we needed to find some paperwork (was he really divorced? actually ever really married? insurance? was he taking his meds? etc.) Apparently he'd died in his living room and had been there for several days before someone called the Police because they hadn't seen him. And apparently the EMS there doesn't clean up bodily stuff. It wasn't pleasant. We found what we needed, dumped the rotting food from the kitchen counter and the fridge and left. I needed to take a shower in boiling bleach.
Tuesday we met with the Lawyer. Finalized funeral arrangements. I gave the Lawyer the keys to brother's house and told him about the mess, and said I would not, could not, ever go back there again. Mom was surprised, but then followed suit. She seemed relieved. Best decision I've made in a while.
Wednesday and Thursday I packed as much as I could. Had some help from The Partner but he was so emotional about emptying the old house (it had been his Grandmother's) it was difficult at best.
Friday I went to the funeral home and picked up Little Brother's ashes. I put them in the trunk of the rental car with his flag (he'd served for several years in the US Navy before he got sick) and drove them down the 100 miles to the little country cemetery in the woods near my Mom's house (we didn't tell the Hertz people about this). We had a lovely graveside service put on by the American Legion. When they played Taps a deer peeked out from the woods wondering what was going on. It was lovely and brief.
Saturday we picked up the big Penske truck and started loading it up with crap. In 90 degree heat and 80% humidity. Sunday we finished and we filled it up. I lost 10 pounds in two days.
Monday morning we left town, drove to Milwaukee, dropped off the Toyota (thanks, Hertz!) and made it as far as Peru, Illinois before I couldn't go any further.
About an hour into our drive Tuesday morning, the Air Conditioning on the rental truck died. It was 99 degrees out and about 85% humidity. We called the rental people and there was a shop in Davenport that could fix us up. We spent 6 hours cooling our jets in a badly air conditioned building. Got back on the road but only made it as far as Omaha. I just couldn't go any further.
Wednesday we did Omaha to Denver, a slog in a car...in a huge truck, well, lets forget about it.
Thursday Morning I went to work at 8 AM. Worked Friday, too.
Saturday and Sunday we emptied the truck. 3500 square foot house of stuff crammed into a 1000 square foot house. Wanna buy some stuff?
I'm just now processing this trip. I still haven't come to grips with my little brother's death. Although he was sick (schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, it depended on the Dr. at the time), I figured we had at least another 10 years. He was only 40. When I do sleep, I can't erase the vision of spot where my brother's body must have been. I'm sleeping in a sea of boxes, the garage and the patio are FULL and I go to work to relax.
A bright note: My workplace gave me 5 days of bereavement leave (normally for a brother they give only 3 paid days), plus three days of vacation. I was pleasantly surprised.
It has been a truly awful month. But I'll be back sooner or later!
Thanks for reading if you read this far. You know who you are.