Why, just as I feel this sweet peace of a contentment with less, with all that I do have, I am then plunged into a deep well of sorrow, a sorrow that skims the cream of my contentment and sits there floating across everything? At any moment, the spark of Ken's premature death can take the picture of my peaceful, quiet forest of solitude and start a little fire raging at the edge of it, curling the corners until it's all just nothing but grey ash and emptiness all over again.
This week I went to Ukrainian village to visit the grand, three story, 1890 redstone apartment building that you bought about 100 years after it was built, about three years before we met, a courageous, urban-pioneering moment in your life as a single, social worker in his 30s. Little did you know that the risk you took back then would become a key foundation of support for your young family living alone without you.
Now I dream of restoring it, piece by piece, this building that has come to sit in a relatively new historic district of Chicago owned now by me who never would have taken the risk that you did. There is peeling paint on crumbling stone, rickety steps in need of replacement, soft brick in need of tuckpointing so the moisture cannot do its damage. I can restore and build upon your dream. I can take something in danger of becoming run down and renew it. You started this. I can keep it moving forward. I am growing stronger though I can still cave in from the devastation of your disappearance.
You were so proud of the building you bought and you loved watching the neighborhood transform around you from dangerous to impossibly hip. Today young people live in the building just like we did....they meet, they move in together, eventually some of them marry. Today I went over to the building to meet with a tree trimmer named Sy. He's going to remove a dead maple tree and trim the dawn redwood that you planted about 20 years ago, and the locust tree that has become simply huge. After Sy left, I met with a young woman who will become a new tenant in May. She's about to begin her job as a medical resident at Rush, and she's moving in with her boyfriend for the first time. She told me they're talking about a ring.
A dead tree will come down. A young woman will begin her career and a new love right here in our building where we were married. I'm thinking renewal. Tomorrow I'm meeting with an architect who knows the area, knows our building, and appreciates restoration work.
I never imagined I'd be doing any of this. Like our building, I've been worn down by what life has rained upon me. But I'm coming back. I'm taking the building with me. We're going to get better. I wish I believed you could see me now. But when I asked you if I should work on restoring the building, I told myself that you said, "go for it."
Take 5 minutes and write about restoration. Or if you'd rather, write about what's been destroyed.