I've been rather insular lately, and up until Monday it was for good reasons. We've redone the boys' room, I've gotten the crib out of my room, and I'm trying to sell it on Craigslist. We've slowly but surely been digging out of the mess our house has become and making it so much more livable for our kids.
But then. Then we got a blasted blizzard and got about 2 feet of snow and lost power on Saturday for 6.5 cold, dark hours. We made it thru fine - BigDaddyFish shoveled for 4 hours while I played flashlight games, cooked by oil lamp (gas stoves forever for me), and I read the last quarter of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to the kids until they fell asleep. They've been in and out of the house in the snow soaking everything in their wake, they don't have any proper snow clothes because we just don't get much snow around here (HA!) so they are getting frostnipped each time and I am just so sick of being stuck in the house. School has been cancelled through the start of winter break, so I've had to make a mad scramble to find enough babysitting to get all my Christmas shopping done. We don't even have a tree yet, but that should be rectified this evening.
But Monday. Monday night (actually Tuesday morning) at 12:30 the phone rang, and it was my FIL calling to notify us that my husband's cousin, Steve, passed away unexpectedly. He was just 32. We aren't clear on the exact cause of death yet, but Steve did have a rare adrenal disease called Addison's Disease, and it's likely that played a role. And now our Christmas is tempered with our longing to be in Chicago, with my husband's aunt, and attend Steve's memorial service, and with our desire to be here and make the nicest Christmas possible for our kids. Money is tight and BDF doesn't have any leave, but we think we've worked out the logistics so that he can be there for the memorial service and still be here to spend the day with us on Christmas itself. We can't afford for all of us to fly out, and the logistics of the service and the lack of leave don't allow for us to drive.
Steve was fun. He had a great sense of humor and liked to have a good time. We never got the chance to have the relationship we wanted with him, because of the geography and a basic difference in our stages in life, but we saw him when we could. Facebook allowed us to get to know each other a little better and keep in touch on a more regular basis. We saw him when we were in Chicago a couple of years ago when I went to BlogHer. We just saw him again right before Thanksgiving, he and his mother came out to my in-laws house the weekend before and we had dinner. It was chaotic with the kids running around, and we didn't have the time to visit with Steve the way we wanted, but he and BDF started a chess game where they kept track of their moves by taking pictures of the board on their cell phones. He reached out and bonded with the kids the best that a single, young male who's world is so detached from the life of diapers and Thomas the Tank Engine and iCarly that we lead could. They liked him. It is a tragedy and we are just so sad. So very sad. We miss him so, already.
But the circle goes around again. My cousin just found out the baby she's expecting in the spring is a girl, and her sister is also going to have a baby girl in about a month. I am happy for them, very happy, but it's a tarnished kind of happy, not the bright shiny happy that it should be. I want to be thrilled, but I just can't right now, and I have little Christmas spirit. I am going through the motions for the kids, but my heart is in Chicago with my husband's aunt.
RIP, Steve. We love you.