From the “Then” to the “Now”

Sometimes I worry that when talking about my house I come across as smug or supercilious or boastful rather than grateful and very lucky. So many people have a hard time keeping a roof over their head, especially now when eviction restrictions have been lifted. Even in the best of times, too many people are homeless and luckless, so it’s perhaps crass to write about my wonderful new life in my lovely little house. And yet, it is my life. My blog. My words. And especially — and always — it’s my gratitude to those who helped make it happen.

For so long, I lived on the edge — not homeless because I always had a room to rent or a place to stay, but not secure, either. One friend even made me promise that if I ever became homeless, I would go stay with her, which was truly a generous offer.

Somehow, though, I slipped through a crack, and instead of the worst happening, the best did. It seems odd, but to find a house, I had to move to a place that seemed on the edge of nowhere, and yet, now that I’m here, I’m right in the middle of . . . somewhere.

Even better, it’s exactly where I want to be.

I was talking to a new friend the other day (though after a year, I suppose I don’t need to add the “new” anymore). She mentioned that housing prices were going up around here, which means the crack in the universe that allowed me to find a home — a forever home, not just a room in someone’s house — really was just a crack. I could barely afford this house; anything more would have been prohibitive.

But here I am.

It’s ironic (and mystical) that Jeff’s death ten years ago blew my life apart, and my homeless brother’s death two years ago somehow glued it back together. If nothing else, my brother’s death put into motion all the gears that needed to move to open the crack that allowed me to slip through and into a home of my own. Then there is my father’s contribution. When he died, he left behind the small legacy that allowed me to follow through where the other two pushed me.

(I like the symmetry of the three, but in my case, there is a fourth person who was instrumental to getting me here — the brother who helped with all the logistics and practicalities.)

This scenario seems so mythic and mythological but then perhaps all lives can be seen in mythic and mythological terms if we tell ourselves the right stories.

And that is the story I am telling myself.

I tend to forget that there is another aspect to the story of how I got here — all the long years of pain and loneliness and angst that accompanied me on my journey from the “then” to the “now.” Without all the changes grief brought, I wouldn’t be this homefull person, not at all smug, but rather accepting of my good fortune and almost giddily grateful for the experience.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

8 Responses to “From the “Then” to the “Now””

  1. Estragon Says:

    If I’ve learned nothing else in the months since my wife’s death, it’s to find grace and comfort in the present. There’s nothing smug about that, IMHO.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Anne Rivers Siddons wrote: “Only the very young and old know the tranquility of the moment. The contentment of living each day as it comes to them, wholly and with all senses. The young do it because they know nothing, yet, of pain and fear and the transience of their lives; the old because they know everything of those things and can bear them only by staying in the moment.”

  2. Joe Says:

    It truly doesn’t “read” as smug, at least not to me. 🙂

  3. Judy Galyon Says:

    I am so glad that you have gotten to a “good place”. Maybe someday I will be there!

  4. snakesinthegrass2014 Says:

    This was heartening to read. We should never suppress good news, especially since there’s so little of it at the moment. I’m so glad for your good fortunes. May there be more in your future, too. – Marty

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