We arrived in Ireland on Friday 4 August and caught the train to my mother-in-law, thinking we would stay for a few days – that’s not what happened. On Sunday we all got in her car for the hour-long drive down the road to ‘visit’ the house. Our house! I haven’t been inside it for over seven years. I love this house! Do you sense my excitement for our return?

I wrote about our arduous journey of buying and moving into the house, in Speak #Truth Lies (Chapter ‘Some Rain Must Fall’) so I won’t repeat the story here. 

Many tenants have lived in our house during our seven years abroad, but still, the dirt was shocking. ‘How can people live like this?’ My mind judged.

Our plan was to stay in a hotel while Ruby and I cleaned the house and Shane went to work. But every decent hotel in Limerick was full, which was just as well because we were floored by Covid. We stayed on at my mother-in-law’s till we recovered, then went in search of hotel rooms again. Our local hotel Castle Oaks had rooms that felt more manky than our house. I had my heart set on The Strand but eventually, we settled for Castletroy Park. Their new Garden Suites are lovely and, although it was crowded, we enjoyed the pool for a revitalising float and steam at the end of our long days scrubbing and mopping. Ruby did a fantastic job polishing the windows.

Ruby and were members here, when she was little and being back in the pool and jacuzzi, with her, was emotional. Her change from child to young woman felt like the present colliding with a barrage of memories that flooded my mind like a kaleidoscope. My awe of the woman she’s becoming mixed with longing for the little girl she used to be, felt like loss and gain all in one. Have you ever felt this way? Write to me and let me know.  

Every morning, in the hotel dining room, we made plans for the day ahead over coffee and breakfast that left a lot to be desired. Rubber eggs anyone?

It took a week of elbow greece and cleaning before we could move home and on the day we finally did we went to Dunnes and bought three of each. Plates, glasses, mugs, towels and bed linens. That night I collapsed into my old bed and slept like a baby.

On Wednesday 23 August, our 40 ft container arrived, 306 boxes were carelessly opened by the relocation crew and shoved into every crevice of our house. It looked like the container had puked its content everywhere. Bewildered, like Alice, I squeezed through narrow paths flanked by piles of stuff. Through my looking glass, all I saw was chaos. Chaos without meaning. After seven international moves, this was by far the worst. My heart sank.

Some days later, I pushed the button on my Kindle, the screen lit up to reveal the time — four a.m. I moaned and stretched. In bed since midnight, I’d hardly slept, just reading and nodding, on and off. At five o’clock I couldn’t take any more of The Perfect Other: A Memoir of My Sister by Kyleigh Leddy. As good as the story is, I felt my mind grow schizophrenic. Not just my mind but all of me was spinning. I needed to get up. 

Downstairs I brewed tea and brought it to the garden. It was pitch dark, not even stars pierced the night sky. In the comfort of our sofa corner, I sip my soothing sweet drink and sense the little girl inside me feeling sorry for herself. I slipped into victim mode and got tense by the injustice of chaos. My heart beat fast in the quiet of the night, and I heard the voice in my head calling me to write.

At five am it was too dark to see the pen on paper, but still, I wrote as dawn gently turned its dimmer switch and woke the birds. Their song chirped from nests all around me. At five-thirty my words became visible on the page where I’d written:

  • Create sanctuaries to help me cope
  • Give the house a month 
  • Make time for daily writing. 

At six thirty the gas boiler let out a huff as it fired up. By then, it was bright enough to see the white puff of smoke from its chimney. I looked down on my page and read; ‘Family Meeting’, then I wrote, ‘This is how it will unfold.’ 

  • Solution Attitude. I’m not your complaints department. 
  • Ask for help. 
  • Assume nothing. 
  • Ban the question: “Where is ___?” 
  • Think mental and physical health. 
  • Find silence and beauty in the moment.

I looked up to see the light of day had revealed dewdrops in the grass and on the leaves of my trees. I have trees! I thought. I planted these trees fifteen years ago and am their caretaker {incert photo}. Feint sun rays painted the dewy morning in brilliant greens and red. Hello, beautiful moment, I thought, I’m here. My heart lept with gratitude. I will tend these trees for years to come, surely I can grant myself a month to sail the chaos that is my home today into a peaceful harbour of someday soon.  I can cope with chaos onboard my ship as long as it doesn’t enter my mind.

‘Go slow, avoid injury’, I wrote next.

Observe yourself and notice when you get agitated. Stop and breathe to destress. Make time for writing and joyful activity. A trip to the library with Lou… My list went on and so did my days of making meaning out of chaos and time to write, but I was unravelling on a very choppy sea. 

To be continued... Sign up for my Circular and I’ll email you when the next instalment of the story is published. My Circular is free to join.

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