(This blog is about events that occurred in late March to early May 2004.)
There are things that happen in life that sometimes we can not explain. We may have an idea why something happened, but we may also want to forget or we may prefer to look the other way. This was one of those moments. (Believe me, it was not a moment in time I care to remember.)
Without much fanfare, I will simply say “we” found ourselves in a real “homeless” place. In late March of 2004, we (Edward, Brian, Adrienne & I) moved into an extended stay hotel in Lake Mary, FL. Again, this was not a time of happiness or security. I felt unloved and being “homeless” was not exactly a mark of pride. We lived in one room ... two beds, a small kitchen with a table and two chairs and a lounge chair. There was, of course, a bathroom. For most of the time, three of us actually lived here. Edward continued to go between here and his office in Orlando. While Adrienne went off to college, Edward was at work and Brian was either working a part time job or looking for work -- I sat and waited. I was alone in a hotel room for most of the day. When someone came home, I was anxious to talk, to have someone other than myself to communicate with and very happy to get out and go someplace else. Once I had access to a car, I was on the road. There were those brief times when I ventured out by myself using my HUGO walker. I would walk past my place as well as past other hotels and extended stay locations nearby. I also walked by some office complexes near where I was staying. However, most of my days were spent sitting in this one room. If I did venture out, it was probably to the laundry room.
We had taken most of our stuff to a storage facility while we ponder the future. Being broke did not help and just trying to pay expenses here was tough enough. Now, we needed to figure out how to find a new place to live -- and a place we could afford. That was a big challenge.
My health was suffering. Besides being mentally depressed, I dealt with various physical symptoms. There were bouts of nausea and diarrhea. I knew I was not eating well, even though I tried to cook meals in our tiny hotel kitchen. We often ate out, and again, this was not helping us financially nor was my diet any better. At Passover, we found ourselves the guests of Rabbi Sholom and Mrs. Deborah Leah Dubov of Chabad, who graciously provided us with a place for the first Seder.
Day after day, I spent time with Brian and Adrienne (when they were available) searching for a new place to live. The Jewish Family Service suggested an apartment complex in Sanford, so we had gone out there to take a look. As we checked out apartments and realized how expensive everything was, my physical and mental conditions grew worse. Prices were ridiculously high in many cases and what was being offered did not seem to meet our needs. We had already moved from a three bedroom apartment, and now, the best we could probably afford would be a two bedroom. All I could see was that we kept going “down” instead of “up” and I tried so hard to remain positive.
I knew that my “cancer journey” would not be easy but I never thought I would end up “homeless” at some point. Attempting to remain positive, I would say to myself: “I’m not on the street. At least, I have a roof over my head.” Sometimes, that worked. There were those moments, however, when the tears just would not stop flowing. This situation affected everyone -- and I knew I had to remain strong in order to survive.
Fortunately, our “homelessness” was short term. (It was just slightly over a month and yet, at times, it felt like years.) We did get an apartment in Sanford; the place recommended by JFS. We packed up our “stuff” and moved into our two-bedroom unit. Adrienne would have a room of her own; Brian would be sleeping in the living room. As already noted, we were definitely tight on space. Besides needing a place to sleep, Edward also needed space to do his freelance graphics.
My life continued to be a roller coaster ride. I woke up on several mornings -- screaming! Adrienne would run in to find me waking up from a nightmare. My oncology nurse, Laura, had recommended some OTC (over the counter) options to help me sleep better. I kept forgetting to buy the items. I have always hated “moving day” and this time was no exception. However, once I was in my “own” place again, I wanted something to help me feel normal -- again. On our first Friday night in our “new” place, I lit candles for the Sabbath and picked up a challah for us to eat. Edward had spent time trying to make the place easier to settle into as well. And, Adrienne (known for her organizational skills) quickly set up her bedroom.
It was not the beautiful four bedroom home we purchased and moved into in 1988. Nor, was it the “luxury” three bedroom apartment we had been living in. However, as we slowly unpacked boxes and put photos onto the walls and set up the kitchen, etc. it began to resemble a place I could call “home.” While it would never really feel “homey” 100 percent, I could slowly feel the roller coaster ride slowing down. I could catch my breath. Surviving was not only possible, it was the only alternative.