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Skeletons in the Backyard

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My parents will soon move from the house where I grew up and I have mixed feelings about the whole endeavor.

It’ll be good because  they’ll leave Virginia and move closer to me, but in doing so, will move farther away from my sister.

They’re having a new house built ultimately so that they can age in place, but I have a hard time visualizing them in their new space.

Back in the spring, my sister and I jotted down a list of all of the nice features of that old house. Skylights in the kitchen — one car-garage (in a neighborhood that does not have garages at all) — well-maintained year-round garden. But there’s other things about that house too that not everyone will love nor any potential buyer will ever know about.

Things like the guinea pig skeleton in the backyard. Scooter, a hand-me-down calico colored guinea pig, died the night before we were going to take her to the exotic animal veterinarian. I remember checking on her periodically throughout the evening and then going in to find that she wasn’t breathing.

We’d had other pets die before, but Scooter was mine. She’d been my responsibility since a neighbor kid couldn’t take care of her anymore and she came to live with us. Her grief was mine to carry and deal with. I emptied out a shoe box and we buried her the next day in the backyard. Every year when my parents go to till up the soil in the garden I think about where she’s buried and wonder how much evidence of her would be left. I wonder if whomever buys their house will ever find her tiny skeleton in tact or just dig up her bones one at a time and know them for what they are — a memory of child-sized grief.



On Grief and Grieving

Being a person is complicated.

My great-aunt died early yesterday morning and her death is something I’m grappling with in different ways at different times. Aunt FernI am full of regret that I didn’t get Elle out to meet her. She lived 2 hours away and I couldn’t be bothered to take my baby girl out to meet my Aunt Fern.

I am sad that she’s dead.

I am content with the manner of her death — as if my emotions in this matter at all — that she died in her sleep and as my dad put it: “She’s probably didn’t even know.”


Aunt Fern drove a school bus for a number of years and had one story she’d tell time and again whenever we got to together. Like many of my lady relatives of her generation, she’s on the shorter side and yet whenever she had to do her annual driver preparedness test, she spoke her pride about how she’d take her brake thumper and walk along the bus and point out all of the parts she knew. She knew her bus and even though I never rode with her, I don’t doubt that she was a damn fine bus driver.

I am also kind of done with mourning. But you can’t be. You can’t put your foot down and say this is the last time I will mourn because it will happen again. You open your heart and love and miss people when they’re gone until the day you die. It’s just the way it is.

Let’s add this one to the list of how I feel:

I feel like an emotional cripple that I can type this and only feel a dull ache.

Just felt like I needed to say these things out loud. Posts of actual content will likely resume next week. Dad will fly in for the funeral so that means we’re going to actually get stuff done on the Jade House.

Editor’s Note: Spell check helpfully pointed out that my writing is full of the passive voice today. Mlle. Holt would be so disappointed. My writing is getting sloppy and that’s why I need to pollute the Internet again with my ramblings.