I stayed in the retirement home where David had died until the first anniversary of his death. After having a memorial service, I left the death place and returned to our home in the Allegheny Mountains. When we left our home in 2011, we add planned to return in 2 months, incredibly, we were trapped by medical circumstances for 5 years. During this time, David had frequently said to me, “don’t sell the Upper 80.”
With great anticipation, a friend and I drove towards home. I had brought my computer and notes with me, planning to start writing the minute we arrived. I had been paying a trusted caretaker to look after the house while we were gone, but, when we got to our driveway, something didn’t feel right. Trees were overhanging the driveway, and, when we got to the garage, I could see that something was terribly wrong. The garage door was missing, and somebody else’s cabinets were in the garage. The walkway was littered with pieces of metal and broken lawn furniture, my key did not work in the lock, neither did David’s. When we got inside, the furniture was askew, the house swarmed with mice, our clothes were covered with mold, the furnace leaked oil, and the lawns and gardens had disappeared. I felt as if David had died all over again.
I decided that even though I could not save David, I could save our home. I found a property management company willing to take on the job, and they responded most generously, saying: “we do not want you think that everyone in Bath County is untrustworthy.” I had to retreat for 8 weeks while the house was being sanitized, then returned via Amtrak to supervise the reconstruction. A year later, the house was habitable. This fall I moved our furniture and car back from the retirement home, and when I reentered the house this week, I felt as if I were returning home. It was finally just as it had been– except for one missing thing: David.