I hope I can sleep without your nightly hopscotch games on the ceiling above my bed, the baseball bat and hammer parties- all your sacrificial labors of love to create a little white noise for my slumbering pleasure. I’m gonna miss you Charlie. Well, maybe not really, but I do pray for you and wish you well, and I thank you for another opportunity to grow in character and compassion.
About eight years ago a dear friend offered to sell her cozy one-bedroom condo in Kona for a very low price. She was unable to keep it up and the market was poor. We bought it as an investment property and planned to rent to YWAM staff on campus. Due to lack of housing on the island, four of us (and five when Scott was there) ended up living in it for eighteen months in 2012-2013. After that season we rented it again to staff and sometime later Charlie moved in upstairs. Our renters kindly endured intense nocturnal noise and the entire condo building felt the effects of Charlie’s mental illness. When moving back ten months ago, we were told the foreclosure process was about finished (had already been a couple years in the making) and I was assured we wouldn’t be disrupted very long. I’m a light sleeper, so jackhammers all night on the ceiling above me aren’t conducive to sanity or basic human kindness.
I have prayed for Charlie and dreamed of seeing his mind healed, as have many other afflicted neighbors. There has been patience and compassion in our building towards him, understanding he is not trying to be a menace. He is tormented. And most likely lonely. We don’t want him homeless or alone or suffering. As I’ve spent many hours wide awake, dreading the next wall shaking thump, I’ve been grateful that Charlie’s disability has saved me from bitterness and anger. If he were of sound mind, I would have pummeled him a long time ago! But he isn’t. And my heart hurts for him and so many others in this situation, often being failed by systems that are unable to protect them or provide appropriate care
Alas, the court process rolled on and on and even after the official foreclosure in January, he legally had sixty more nights to throw bowling balls, do jumping jacks and slam doors. Come to find out, the sixty days is AFTER a judge actually stamps the foreclosure papers, which in this case turned out to be a full six weeks after the sale happened. Last Tuesday as I exhaustedly hiked up the hill to the farm to help with harvest, I realized my last nerve had been frayed. Two hours of sleep that night and only three the night before, I was struggling to hold on. I called the police twice that night and they quickly responded as usual, but we were told they can’t do anything if there is no noise when they arrive. After ten months of this I had anxiety about going to bed at night. I was truly at the end of my coping abilities.
Walking home from the farm I experienced some unusual clarity in my tired brain as I prayed the serenity prayer. I cannot change the legal system, I cannot force the police to help me and I cannot fix Charlie. The only thing I could change in this situation was where I slept at night. Our condo is under contract and due to close March 31, so I had plane tickets April 1 and exciting plans (that of course has all changed since then), but I didn’t think I could make it two more weeks like this. I made the hard choice to move out and leave the island early (none of my friends had space or ability to keep two more people and a dog.)
The world has changed immensely since I made this decision ten days ago. Little did I know that the YWAM campus would be quickly closed down, flights would be cancelled and we would need to live under quarantine. Just a few weeks ago, after months of intensive researching and internet shopping, we bought a used motorhome to travel California and visit friends- a trip I’ve dreamed of taking for years. I was psyched to finally see the Redwoods, walk the Golden Gate bridge and eat San Francisco sourdough bread. And we were super excited to visit Emily, our very missed Thirsty Goose Farm comrade. We had fun plans to visit siblings and parents and drive the Alcan to Alaska for the summer. But Corona beat us to California and the state started to shut down. We began shifting plans, but as soon as we made new ones, they crumbled apart. We were thirty-six hours away from flying out when I realized we had nowhere to go (I didn’t want to bring a possible infection to my older friends or family and state and national parks were closing to campers) and I didn’t want to be quarantined in a motorhome just Grace and I, in the cold under the I-5 bridge! This is a bummer time to be homeless (and my heart goes out to those that don’t have family like I do to take them in.) So once again, we changed our plans and flights.
Yesterday Grace, Juno, our four moving boxes and I landed safely in Nashville. My lovely daughter in law has given us Hawaiian refugees safe harbor. Our faithful Kona family helped us quickly pack, sell items and clean out the condo. Scott is staying put in the village for the time being (he’s been living in “quarantine” for 2 months already in 40 below weather and no running water!) and we are hoping to sell the motorhome as the trip is not happening. If we can’t, friends of friends have offered to park it for the time being. It’s been a whirlwind full of constant surprises and small, continual doses of stress. I’m mastering the art of deep breathing while shooting up “please help me!” prayers. (Yes, I’m aware than many others are suffering much worse fallout then we are, and my prayers are with them.)
Last night, as I snuggled in my very comfortable, very quiet bed, I prayed for Charlie. Thanks to him expediting our moving plans, we had still had flights available and made it to a safe place to hunker down. I’m quarantined with three Vanderbilt nurse practitioner students (Erin, twin sister Samm and her husband, Kalab), a blossoming baker (Grace) who is excited to have subjects for her croissant perfecting sessions, and three dogs. My son, Caleb, flies back to his remote island in three days; I’m happy we had a little time together as well. So all my basic needs-quality healthcare (and entertaining nurse talk), yummy food and puppy love, are coveredJ My last words before falling into a long, sweet, dreamy slumber last night….”Goodnight, Charlie.”