Last year at this time we made decisions that would change our family's future forever. We decided to really live life. We decided to truly give up debt and things that tied us to a life that we weren't LIVING but letting pass us by. We decided to buy a bus to convert it into a tiny house and travel the country with our kids. So in the past twelve months we did buy a bus, a large 40' school bus, we gutted it and are in the process of building our tiny home on wheels. We have learned about solar energy, plumbing, building, and electricity. We have touched every inch of that bus while we turn it into our home. We have learned so much and made other decisions too about how we want to live once the bus is finished and what kind of life we would like to show our kids on the road. We have evaluated what is really important and what can go. I have blogged about all this, and shown photos on Facebook and Instagram but you might not know exactly how this all came about, what is our why?
One year ago a really awesome guy, our friend Paulie, died. He was 53. He went into the hospital and didn't come home. Nick and Paulie had concert tickets for the end of December. He was not expected to die.
I met Paulie in 2005, Nick knew him before that because they were next door neighbors. The sounds of the Grateful Dead drew them together like magnets and they were soon brothers. I moved in with Nick and that's when we met. It was hard not to love him but boy, was he a pain in the ass. We were neighbors for years, sharing barbecues and beers, going to festivals and shows or sometimes just hanging around the house. Nick and Paulie loved to watch football so they could be found at Paulie's most Sundays, especially if the Eagles were playing. Paulie used to call me up to bum cigarettes or to ask me to come over and pick up his remote control when he dropped it and couldn't reach it. I would of course go over every time. When Nick and I were planning our wedding all Paulie could talk about was spinning me in his chair on the dance floor, and he did. Paul was a quadriplegic and wheelchair bound after a diving accident in a swimming pool when he was in his 20's. Whenever I saw him he was happy and trying to live life to the fullest even though, for him, that meant some limitations.
After we got married we moved but we still all lived in the same town so we hung out a lot. Once we had our first child, as tends to happen, we hung out less. Nick tried to find time to go hang out but our lives were changing. We eventually moved out of town and the distance meant less hanging out. Add more kids and stress and work and you can guess that we hung out less and less. When we did hang out it was like no time had passed, he was so happy to see us. The kids called him Uncle Paulie and he loved them. I really regret not making more time to hang out with him and not being a better friend in more recent years. I know he's still with me and I know doesn't have anything but love for me and that helps me heal.
Paul's life as a quad had its ups and downs and he was in and out of the hospital because something minor could turn into something major fast and that's what happened in the end. He had cheated death so many times we took that for granted and never prepared ourselves the last time. Nick and I saw him in the hospital a few days before he died and he wasn't there, his body was there but he was not there anymore. His family had to make the difficult decision to remove him from life support on December 6, 2017. We took the kids with us to the memorial service a couple days later and got to see friends and Paulie's familiy. It was awesome to be in a room of people who loved him so much because it is so hard to say goodbye. So we made the decision, at that moment to LIVE. No more excuses, no more procrastinating, just live like we hadn't before and take Paulie with us in our hearts and by naming our bus after him. Now we can take him to some of the places he never got to go because of being a quad. We can keep him with us by talking about him and talking to him still. He is with us and if you keep people in your heart they can never really die.
Over the summer while I was working on the bus this blue butterfly flew around me and the bus almost daily. This butterfly was beautiful but it was kind of a pain in the ass because it was getting in my way all the time. I was constantly trying to keep the butterfly from getting locked in the garage or bus. I knew this was Paulie telling me he was still around and that we were doing the right thing. I know he see us and is so excited about our adventure just like he had been so excited to see us off on other adventures and was waiting to hear all about it when we returned. I try to learn from all experiences, the good ones and the bad ones, sometimes the bad ones teach us the most. We hope that we can adventure, live, learn, and love life more, in his memory and in his honor. If you see us please ask us about him, we would love to share a story about how wonderfully, loving and what a great guy he was. We can also tell you a bit about how he could be a pain in the ass.
Much love to you Paulie!