Grief has a pattern to it. The first year is the toughest. You have these milestones and remember where you were the year before without the grief. I’ve gotten to know grief too well. My dad died after his battle with cancer right after our country changed with an election of a president who was a TV reality star in 2016, so I was reeling from both events. My mother died after her battle with cancer in May 2018 and I appreciated the two people who sent me sympathy emails from our cohousing list (it should have been a clue, only two people? And both have decided not to live in that particular place). And then months before I moved into cohousing, my step-mother died right before mother’s day which I was planning to spend with her since it was my first without my beloved mother. I don’t think I even mentioned it to my almost neighbors that time.
I bring this up because I have a different type of grief this time. The grief of losing the home and community I thought I wanted. The one I dreamed of for almost 10 years and learned about in December 2017 and met at a common meal before anyone moved in, in January 2018. The place I thought I would form a new family of sorts since I knew was my mother was not long for the world.
So, now I have different milestones. August came along and I got an email from my mortgage bank congratulating me on a year of closing on the house. So painful since I had already moved out by then and knew it was a hopeless place for me. (I basically gave up a week before after trying for 2 months to make it better but not enough community members seemed to care or give me an on ramp and then a mediator made it even worse with their bias and strange conformity like methods.)
End of summer came and I remembered our end of summer bash last year and how my son did not appreciate the hamburgers without any meat. He felt it was a misuse of the word. I remember not having too much fun wondering if we would get bored of each other. (I don’t need to worry about fourth of July memories this year because they had a party on the other side of the community and didn’t invite me – super painful.)
Halloween wasn’t too bad since we didn’t really think about it this year with the pandemic. Last year’s was okay, with a party at one member’s house. I liked the creative costumes of my neighbors and wondered what they would choose next year. I”ll never know.
Thanksgiving I did remember how we ate together and it was nice meeting some of my neighbors’ families. One member told me his children really liked me. I wonder if they think that now after the vicious rumors going around as the black sheep of the dysfunctional family our community became.
I also remember Thanksgiving showed how one member was adamant everything had to be perfect. She was not content on what people signed up to cook for our community dinner. Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without homemade cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and a whole bunch of other stuff she decided she had to make and didn’t seem happy about it. I was already starting to worry about this member and their rigid ways.
Christmas was another memory that wasn’t that big a deal because in cohousing it was more of a conflict. I wanted to drive an hour and be with my sister but also didn’t want to miss out on the activities at the cohousing which were my favorite – a fire pit. I missed the fire pit.
Ultimately I made the right decision. My sister is my family. You can depend on families, well, some not the dysfunctional ones. I used to think my family was dysfunctional because my parents divorced but after seeing how the family of the cohousing community behaved like a true dysfunctional family – scapegoat, blame, deny, lying, I see my family was always great. And we had a community. My sister was around the block and my mother down the street. My kids would walk over and see them. We spent holidays together and they saw my mom, their grandma, every day. I wanted to recreate that. I failed.
So, the only holiday left is today – super bowl. After that was just Easter which was only an outdoor egg hunt because of COVID, nothing big, and the disaster that was the Independence Day Shunning!
The Superbowl party in the common house was meh as my sons would say. Someone printed up some contest which sounded fun, but literally, on paper it wasn’t. Betting on ads or something. So I made it through the halftime show which I didn’t like since I thought it was a bit too much wiggle for Shakira and JLO but everyone else seemed to disagree. It just wasn’t my taste but I’m too much a feminist to every really enjoy women using their bodies more than their voices as singers. Maybe they should go with Up with People at half time again (oh wait, that has been accused of being a cult back then – it isn’t now. I’ve hosted those kids and they are great.)
So, I”m enjoying the Super Bowl safely alone. I could have gone to a zoom party with my new friends and my family will share a zoom near the end for a little bit. I have good memories of hearing my Dad and brothers scream and yell at the TV screen over football plays so maybe I’ll hear my brother’s joy or disdain over zoom.
Okay, like I said, this blog is also my journal. The first year of grief is the hardest. I’m sure one day my year in cohousing will be a distant memory. I”m creating new memories with real friends, zoom, telephone, and a new home in a condo with lovely neighbors and a beach!