Rick has left the building

That day has finally come.  On Saturday, Rick left for Michigan to begin the next chapter in his life.

I got up early on Saturday and was settled into the red chair with Sascha reading the paper when Rick got up.  He looked out the window at the inch or so of new snow on the ground.  I told him we had to clear the driveway before we could move the cars around to load his Honda up.  We suited up and went out into the cold and snow.  It took us about 30 minutes to get all of the driveway, deck, patio, and front walk cleared.  Then it was on to the larger than life game of Tetris.

Rick had spent the last three weeks deciding what items he wanted to take with him to school.  Over the last 4 or 5 years, he had collected a lot of stuff in his room.  I would say a lot of it was trash or junk.  What do they say about beauty in the eye of the beholder?  He parceled out the items he wanted to give to someone and what things were worth giving to Goodwill.  That left the trash then.  Unfortunately, I would be the one to bag up the leftovers and toss them.

On Friday night, Rich moved all of the containers, suitcases, and odd items to the living room so we could get to them easily on Saturday morning.  The stack didn’t look that large.  I was pretty sure it would fit into the car without any trouble.  We all took pictures of this grouping of items as a symbol of the journey to come.

The weather forecast for the last couple of days had sounded very wintry.  There was a mix of snow, sleet, rain, ice, and maybe some leftover precipitation from last year.  I was worried about Rick leaving in this.  He assured me that he would drive within the limits of the weather.  Rich reminded me that he was going to Michigan and would learn to drive in this kind of stuff.  I took a deep breath and dropped the argument.

Saturday morning opened with snow on the ground from the night before.  It was sleeting and raining while we were clearing the driveway.  It was not so bad as to stop the progress.  Rick backed his car into the garage and he brought his old life out to the garage for the journey.  I packed the car by placing items into one spot and shifting them around until everything fit.

Back in the house, I prepared to say good-bye for now.  Then Rick asked us to take him to breakfast.  What?  I thought we had decided not to do that.  Rick says he just wanted to postpone leaving until the sleet stopped.  It could be the real reason.  This meant we would take our leave of him at the restaurant.  We dressed and headed over to Island Café.

The delay was hard.  I was sitting across from Rick and watching him eat.  I was so going to miss my son.  After we were done, we walked out and gave Rick our final hugs and kisses.  Rich and I got in the car and drove away.  I hoped his drive would be uneventful.

Sounds bad, but I already have plans for Rick’s room.  We need to rehab the current office.  It’s in bad shape and disparate for a new look.  I plan to paint the room, replace the carpet with a hardwood floor, and arrange the office furniture in there.  This would give me an opportunity to rip up the office and rework things in there.

There is no time like the present to start this kind of project.  I got trash bags and headed in the room formerly known as Rick’s.  Rick had left the Pacific Ocean garbage patch in front of the closet.  This was my starting point.  I picked through the papers, notebooks, folders, and odd items.  Some of the items were worth saving.  I set these aside on the bed for later.  I had almost a full trash bag from this effort.

Next, I went through the art that was leaning against the wall in portfolios.  Some of the items were from art installations at college.  Those weren’t important to me.  I planned to throw them out with the trash.  I did find some examples of Rick’s work that were worth saving.  These went on the bed in my treasured pile.  It was on to the desk next.  I realized by this time that Rick is a Class A packrat.  He comes by that genetically.

I stopped in my efforts to go out and shovel snow with Rich.  It was time to clear the slush and snow from the driveway and other areas.  It was tough work since it weighed a ton.  Sascha was running around wanting to play.  I think she really wanted to go run, but we don’t have a sled.

Back in the house, I checked my phone and saw that Rick had texted me.  He had stopped at the first oasis.  The snow and sleet had changed to all rain the further south he went.  That relieved my mind.  I checked The Weather Channel to see what it looked like now.  It appeared to be rain all the way to Holt.

Rich was fixing dinner tonight.  He had planned for jaeger schnitzel with noodles.  This is hunter’s sauce over breaded pork tenderloin.  It was awesome.  Unfortunately, Rich didn’t make the homemade spatzel, but that was fine.  In our house, the cook doesn’t clean up.  Normally, Rick would be doing this.  Without him, it was up to me alone to clear dishes and load the dishwasher.  Sascha was there to do her part though.

Rick called right before dinner.  It was good to hear his voice and know that he had made it safely to his destination.  The roads weren’t bad and he had made good time.  His family in Michigan had welcomed him with open arms.  Alex, Kelli, Erica and Joe have always been a second family to him.  It was just for a week before he moved into the dorms.  He has business to take care of on campus during the week and this would give him an opportunity to take care of that.  Besides, Alex and Kelli could put him to work while he was there.

After dinner, it was back to cleaning some more.  I tackled the bookshelf.  It was hard to decide what to keep here.  Most of it was related to video games.  I kept all of this as a reference to Rick.  It was all about video games with him.  I got the shelves organized and rearranged.  There was even room to add more things up there.

Now for the closet.  I had avoided this because it looked like a large job.  I opened a brand new trash bag and prepared to be ruthless.  I sorted the clothes hanging in the closet and divided them between the Goodwill bag and the trash bag.  The bottom of the closet looked dark and full of questionable things.  I started to pull things out and judge what to do with them.  It was the bucket of concrete with PVC pipes sticking up out of it.  What the heck was this?  I sorted through the items and decided what to put back into the closet.  The bucket of cement was not one of these.

That was the end of Rick’s room for the day.  Rich was watching a western from the 1970s.  I remembered this one.  I was going back and forth from the living room and the movie to the office where I was doing Facebook and my family tree.  Multitasking is one of my specialties.  I posted family pictures to Zurekbrau.com for my cousins to look through.  I was creating a cheat sheet for them to use when they reviewed the family photos.

The next movie was not one I had seen before.  This meant more traveling back and forth between the living room and the office.  Why didn’t I just bring the computer out to the living room?  Good question.  I just didn’t for some strange reason.

Sascha was trying to convince me to go to bed.  I wasn’t tired.  Rich and I hung out for a while, much to her disappointment.  We watched a show and talked for a while longer.  Finally about midnight, we gave up and headed to bed.  Of course, that means we read first.  Soon, it was lights out and off to dreamland.

Sunday opened with snow and clouds.  Darn, we’ll need to shovel again!  Where is that Rick when you really, really need him.  I thought I had prepared myself for having to face life without him.  I really don’t like cold or snow.  What did I sign up for here?

Rich and I read the paper on our tablets and drank our coffee.  When Rich got to the bottom of his cup, he wanted to yell out for a refill.  However, there was no one around to get the refill, but me.  Sascha sure wasn’t going to do it.  This was our first real crisis without Rick.  We almost did rock, paper, scissor for who would get up.  I relented and filled the cups.

After breakfast and dishes, it was time to tackle that driveway. The snow was still coming down, but it was necessary to get the 2 or 3 inches up before it got worse.  Sascha went out with us, but she was hanging out behind the garage watching the neighbors.  The job was easier since it was light and fluffy snow.  We managed to get the work done and back in the house.  The temperature was dropping and the freezing cold was coming.

I had Rich help me get the Christmas storage boxes down from the garage.  I was able to pick up all of the decorations around the house in less than 30 minutes.  The new tree was easy to disassemble and pack away.  I held off on the outside decorations until tomorrow when it might be warmer.  I would leave them in the garage to dry off for a while.  Now I just need Rich to help me get the boxes back into the top of the garage again.  I do miss Rick’s help.

So here I am at the end of Day 2 without Rick.  I miss him a lot, but I’m not as devastated as I thought I might be.  I guess the prep over the last 21 years has helped after all.  We don’t have anyone to abuse by making them do all of the little things around here.  I guess I can try to make Rich do it, but I just don’t see that working out for me.

We miss you, Rick  Good luck with school and your new adventures.

Rick's life in containers for the trip.
Rick’s life in containers for the trip.
My starting point in Rick's room.
My starting point in Rick’s room.
Rick's room as he left it.
Rick’s room as he left it.
Bucket of concrete from Rick's closet.
Bucket of concrete from Rick’s closet.
Sascha was wondering what this was about.
Sascha was wondering what this was about.
Snow on Sunday morning.
Snow on Sunday morning.
Snow on the deck.
Snow on the deck.