I know there’s a bright side of the road—I can see it and sometimes even reach it briefly.  Utilizing the amazing skills of resilience that I learned from my late husband, guitarist Pete Huttlinger, I am working through the grief of losing him.

The Dryer Buzzer

The Dryer Buzzer

Today I heard the dryer buzzer go off. The one that lets me know my clothes are done and that I should really pull them out before they wrinkle and I end up having to dry them all over again. When I think about the money I’ve spent on electricity to dry the same load of clothes over and over again, to remove wrinkles…topic for another blog “Money I’ve Wasted.”

Today I was sitting at my desk at home working away, and I heard this buzzer go off. My ears perked up. What was that? I have lived in this house for nearly 12 years now and I have NEVER heard that buzzer.  I know it’s an option on the dryer and I know I always have it set to go off, but in all these years I’ve never heard it. I used to even wonder if it really worked, or if I had paid for a feature that was useless.

The reason I heard the buzzer for the first time is that I am now officially the only physical body taking up 3,000 feet of space in this house. There used to be four of us, now there’s one.

Graphic for The Dryer Buzzer.png

As soon as Pete died, the kids surrounded me. Sean packed a suitcase, left her nearby apartment in Nashville, and took up residence in her childhood room.  James made numerous trips in from Cookeville, TN where he lives about 90 minutes away. I was rarely left unattended. It was one of many gifts of support, and from the ones I needed the most. I am certain they needed it as well.  Over the next couple of months, Sean determined that when her lease was up on her apartment she would move back home—she couldn’t bear the thought of me being by myself, and neither could I.

I like to think I did all the right things. I told her that she didn’t have to make such a sacrifice, and that I would survive—that her visits were wonderful, but that she didn’t have to uproot her whole way of life for me. She had just graduated from college a few weeks before Pete had died, and she had a whole plan ready to roll out.  Moving back home wasn’t part of that plan.  I finally gave in, because I honestly did want to have her around, but I told her that she could change her mind any time she wanted to, and that I would be okay. She had to promise that she wouldn’t feel locked in.

As with everything she does, Sean came back on a mission. She renovated her old high school-ish room into a modern space full of cool furniture, books and music, and her beloved writing desk. She painted the walls, put in new shelving and converted the space to look nicer than most of the rest of the house. For those first months, we stuck close together and spent almost every evening in the living room, wrapped up in blankets, talking and crying, and pondering the meaning of life—how to get through it when it sucks. We binged-watched movies as distractions. We did whatever we could do to get through that day and move into the next. On the weekends, James and his girlfriend Hannah would come home and wade into the rough with us.

Sean and I are a lot alike. Similar philosophies on life, politics, and anxiety traps. Many of the pitfalls that come from kids moving back home didn’t seem to apply to us. When reality gives perspective on what’s important in life, and what’s not, dickering over who cleans the kitchen, or takes out the garbage just doesn’t measure up on any scale of significance. Not to mention I’m not going to bite the hand that emotionally feeds me.  So I can tell you it’s been a year and a half of pure joy having her here.

A couple of months ago, Sean got the offer she’d been looking for. A house in Nashville with two other roommates, perfect location off Belmont Blvd., and affordable.  These opportunities used to be a dime a dozen in this town, but with the HUGE growth spurt we’ve had the last 10 years, everything is priced out of reach.  When the call came, we both knew there was no turning it down.

We both were excited—and anxious. We had known this day would come, but it was hard for both of us. We tried to make packing exciting, and it was, kind of. We also knew that if we thought about it too much we’d cry.  We’re so tired of crying.  In our usual, deeply philosophical, self-help, Buddhist kind of ways, we just talked it through as we had every other difficult issue these last two years. We decided that it would be super easy to go into a funk and be sad, but seriously that was a useless choice. What was the alternative? Live together forever? When you think about it that way, there’s no option.  Be excited for the next step. So we are.

She’s in her new amazing place. I’m nagging her to get the rest of the things out of her closet so I can inhabit her old space.  I’m binge watching by myself, and she sits down with me when she comes over to do laundry.  But when she’s here I can’t hear the dry buzzer.

The Bathroom Blinds

The Bathroom Blinds

For Pete's Sake

For Pete's Sake