Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A whole lot of good and a bit of not-so-good

If months were years and our marriage was a person, we'd be totally legal. Today Niels and I celebrate our 21st month of marriage! Life is good in the de Jong household. Everyone is finally healthy. Daniel slept through the night for the first time in weeks last night. I wrote Daniel's little book. And recently, we've crossed off a few big items on our to-do list. Daniel now has his American passport (with the cutest little photo ever!). We have the apostille (international notary) for his Dutch passport and just have to have more photos taken. And thanks to our tax return (and little Tax Deduction), we were able to knock off quite a few expenses, like all the medical expenses for Daniel's birth, plane tickets for our big trip to The Netherlands in December, another trip to AZ to see Gramma Chi and introduce Daniel to his Great-Gramma Ann, and the big ticket item: paying off the HELOC (loan against my condo)!!

When I lost my job after my second TBI, I had a few months savings to live off of while my house sold. Except it didn't sell. I lowered the price, fixed it up with new carpet and paint, and it still didn't sell. I used up my savings and moved on to my 401k. When that was gone and it still hadn't sold, I started using the equity (ha!) I thought I had acquired in eight years of paying extra on my mortgage. I used that money to pay bills, including my huge COBRA payment each month for health insurance. The loan represented 18 months of desperate living, frustration and a not-so-pretty season of my life as I wondered what God could possibly have in store for me now that I was "medically" retired with a full life of expenses ahead. Enter my sweet husband, Niels, who somehow managed to fall in love with me at my worst.

Since I am the one who handles our finances, I'm the one who has felt the double burden of this debt. I had been debt free other than my home before my head injury, and I felt a little guilty for bringing that debt into our marriage. But last week, we made the last payment and we're thrilled with the huge emotional and financial burden that has been lifted. It feels great to close that chapter.

The little bit of not-so-good is the unfortunate end to the book. Today, there is a sheriff sale for my condo. It's unlikely that a buyer will make a purchase given Everhome's terms, but it's the last big step in the process before the foreclosure takes place. The condo has been one frustration after another for the last 2 years, and finally it will revert back to the lender and I can wipe my hands of it. Some have tried to comfort me by saying that in a few years, most everyone will have some sort of blemish like this on their record. Niels told me it doesn't matter than my credit is toast because everything is based on his income now anyway. But I've always prided myself in my ability to handle finances and so it's frustrating to lose my ability to work in this economy. I tried to sell the house for three years. We paid double mortgages for 18 months. I used up my savings and 401K trying to stay current. I found renters for a short while. I fixed it up, lowered the price, tried for a short sale. And I got royally screwed in the process. It's hard not to be bitter about it, but it's over and we're moving on.

Besides, it's only a little bit of not-so-good and there is way too much good to celebrate in my life instead.

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