When Living Far Out isn’t Far Enough


Our country road in 2009, before all of the traffic came



You know where you have one of those weeks, I mean really one of those weeks. Not the ones where your television quits working, you or one of the dogs knocks over a priceless family heirloom and it smashes on the floor, or you walk into the only organic grocer in town and they’re out of just about everything.

I’m talking about a week where internal and external events forever change your life, relationships and how you view the world.

It’s been one of those weeks at Campbell Town.

It began last Saturday when my mother in law passed away. It wasn’t unexpected, but that never makes the loss seem any easier. The family dynamic was complicated, as are many mother/son/daughter-in-law relationships, but I’m grateful the last words we both exchanged with her were “I love you.”

My husband’s world is forever changed, as it is when we lose a parent.


On Monday, the horrible tragedy in Boston reminded us that no matter how far we move into the country, we’re all still affected by hate and senseless cowardice acts that cannot be reasoned or explained by the sane mind.

On Tuesday, our Abbi was hit by a neighbor who was driving down our road.

When my mom and aunt purchased this land nearly 30 years ago, it was so isolated and undeveloped that the real estate agent tried to talk them out of buying it.

When we started coming down with my aunt and her husband in 1996 to help them start what would be their guest cabin, there were no telephone or electric lines and not a person or house for miles.

Ten years ago, when we built our house, this road remained about the same. It had remained that way up to that point for 20 years and we had no reason to expect it would develop as it did.

When the land beyond our 40 acres that are owned by my family began to be sold off in lake lots, we still didn’t have an idea of the traffic that would bring here.

Six years ago, when we moved here, I could walk the dogs down the road for two miles each day and not see one person or vehicle. At the time, Dale was still up in the city and after a month, I began wondering if I could take such isolation on a permanent basis, it was so overwhelming.

Little did I know that those lots that were sold shortly after we built Our Little House would soon spring homes, and those homes have also brought the traffic and people. On the day Abbi was hit by that neighbor, I counted no less than a dozen cars that went by our house in one day. Of course, no speed limit signs on a country road also mean to some people there is actually no limit.

Abbi should recover. She had major internal damage and underwent a 3 ½ hour surgery. As of this writing, I’m waiting for Dale to bring her home from the animal hospital.

We still don’t know how we will keep Abbi or our other dogs safe and contained at this point. The only thing I do know is that the world at large and our little world here is not the place it once was.

The only thing for us to do, for anyone to do when our world changes is to learn to deal with what we have and not allow those changes from keeping any of us from Living Large.

How do you deal with major life changing events?

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40 Responses

  1. Oh, Kerri, I’m thinking of you and your husband right now. Funny how we should expected the unexpected and difficult, but never do. Guess it allows us to sleep at night.

  2. alisa bowman says:

    Ugh. So sorry for the poor pooch. Glad she’ll be okay, but that really is every dog owner’s worst night mare. Hugs.

  3. Elaine says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your mother-in-law and poor Abbi’s accident. Life is sometimes very hard. My husband of 40 years died unexpectedly in September. My kids, who were already dealing with the loss of a close friend and a cousin, are now trying to come to terms with this overwhelming loss. My oldest daughter lives in Boston and it was awhile before I knew she was safe and then after all the trauma of the police searches and sirens in their neighborhood was over I got to deal with the hospitalization of my son. He is fine now but it was one traumatic week! Sometimes all you can do is keep going, one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. Books, music, art, a funny movie, a talk with a good friend,a walk, meditation, keeping busy-all help to sustain you when you’re dealing with major changes. I have one cat who has tucked himself into my arm every night since my husband died and purrs me to sleep. I don’t think you get over their deaths but it does get “softer”-not necessarily easier but not quite so gut-wrenching. Life, for better or worse, does go on. (And thank God for laughter!)

    • Kerri says:

      I’ve been wondering how you’re doing since the loss of your husband, Elaine. I’m so sorry for the other things you’ve been going through. Whoever coined the phrase, “When it rains, it pours,” knew what they were talking about. I’m glad to hear your children are ok. Isn’t it wonderful how comforting our pets can be? I think there are certain losses that are harder to take, the loss of our parents, siblings and spouses, especially. I’m continuing to keep you in my thoughts.

  4. I am so sorry that you had such a gut-wrenching week—It’s especially hard when things seem to all happen at once. Hope the spring brings renewal and better days.
    Hugs, Irene

    • Kerri says:

      I think it would help if spring would ever get here and stay. Gardening is good therapy, but we have a freeze warning at least once a week still. It’s almost May, for heaven’s sake.

  5. I hope for a speedy recovery for your Abbi. It seems like when things are overwhelming I try to find someone else that I can help.

  6. We lived for years on a quiet dirt road with only a few neighbors. One of the neighbors was an incredible jerk about speeding and we had our fair share of battles. I was SO happy when he moved.

    When things go haywire around here I manage the best I can and when there’s a chance for down time I generally immerse myself in a book. Hang in there!

  7. What a week! All any of us can do is try to ride these waves out.

  8. Kerry says:

    wishing you and Dale strength and centeredness as you go through these changes. how to deal with major changes? I’ve been through a number of serious ones recently, and I find listening to the silence and making space — mental and physical — to trust my heart are things that work for me. I also take inspiration from music and other arts, both as an artist myself and in the work of others — helps with perspective, I find. perhaps that will help you and Dale as well.

  9. Alexandra says:

    We live on a dirt road, too. When neighbors with small kids bought the empty lot across the street, we put up signs urging cars to go slow. (I took my elderly parents walking on the road, too, back then.) The police chief told us the only way to achieve that objective was to leave the road bumpy. Major life changing events? Well, we muddle through. Sorry to hear Abbi was hit. Could you put up a fence so the dogs would have a place to run? I know that seems crazy when out in the country, but it would protect your loved ones.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, I so wish there was a way to fence this property, Alexandra, even a small portion of it. However, we’re sitting on rocks on the side of a mountain, our entire yard is a slope. We already tried one of those fenced runs, which was a huge waste of $300. Sade and our late Emma escaped within an hour or so and then a tree fell on it during the ice storm in 2009 and crushed it. At the moment, we’re keeping Abbi on a leash and when she does go out alone, we keep her on a lead. I don’t like it, but I would like it less if she were to be hit again and everytime she hears a car? Yep, she wants to run after it, still.

  10. Lane says:

    My condolences for the passing of your mother in law.
    For the dog situation, as someone who has been there and lost a dog to a country road driver, I would recommend what used to be called an Invisible Fence, but now there are different brands out there. In a nutshell, the kit has you lay a wire on the ground (you can bury it a couple inches too) encircling an area you want the dogs to run free on and the wire is connected to an electrical amplifier that runs a very, very mild electrical current and the dogs each wear a collar that beeps a warning to the dogs when they get within a few feet of the boundary marked by the ground wire. If they get too close it gives them a very low amp, yet startling shock. Very humane and it doesn’t hurt the dogs physically or emotionally. The instructions contained great info on how you train your dogs and explained it would take about two weeks to train a dog to learn the boundaries, but my German Shepherd figured it out ten minutes. If you want to cover an area bigger than an acre you’d need more than one “amplifier,” or purchase a kit with a more powerful one. I hope this helps.

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Lane. My aunt tried one of those and her dog just ran right through it. I also don’t believe there is any amount of electric shock that is humane. I’m afraid Abbi’s days of running are over. I would rather keep her on a leash and a lead than use the electric shock.

  11. Tsondru Namkha says:

    Just ran across this quote directly before reading your entry, and thought it related. Change is so hard, and yet can be so good. (As for myself, in a similar siutation to yours, I sold the place and I moved further out. I am glad I did.)
    “So you know the nature of reality is to unfold — that’s the nature of reality. And that’s true of the reality of everything. Of the mountains and the weather, the oceans, the plants and the animals, and particularly of humans. Our very nature as humans is to be on a journey and we, to the extent that we’re willing to acknowledge that and give up the idea that there is any solid fixed secure haven for ourselves, then we will be joyful as we move through the world.” – Reggie Ray, Dathün 2008-09, Dharma Ocean Foundation

  12. Kirsten says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, it is hard to loose a parent (in-law) even though it isn’t unexpected, when my grandfather passed we knew it was coming for a long time but it was hard to except and still devestating when it happened. I am glad your Abbi will recover, I pray her discomfort doesn’t last long and her healing is fast.
    Rest, breath, take your time to mourn and know how darn jelous I am at you having such an adorable house out of the way like you do. (Our neighbor had a business plan created for our block and found out that there are 800,000 cars that pass our house every year.)
    We are in the process of downsizing, selling the house, looking for an out of the way spot of forest or meadow for the kids to grow up in.
    Bless you and your family.
    Peace to all. K

  13. Sheryl says:

    So sorry for your loss, Kerri, and for the changes that make you unhappy. I understand your feelings totally. It’s unfortunate when we can’t keep things the way we want – the way we think they should be – but I think the only thing we can do is try to adapt.

  14. Lee Waggoner says:

    God works all things for the good of those who love Him. Romans 8:28

  15. I am hoping Abbi will be well. I grew up on a road with virtually no traffic in the country. My one friend and I played in the street. We walked day and night on that road. Today that road is paved with a yellow line down the middle and many more houses. I think it’s getting harder to find rural isolation.

  16. jamie says:

    tough week for you guys, so sorry!!! They are hard to handle. We can relate to the encroachment issue, it’s a tough one and in some senses there’s nothing to be done about it…and it seems to be coming everywhere. The world changes and we have to change along with it. Change is often the biggest challenge we face. We send warm wishes to your dog to heal and be free to romp about again. And to learn to deal with the cars (sigh…can relate to this one so well…we had days where we felt like shaking our fists at every vehicle passing, ridiculous or not!). I feel often like we live in a condensed and somewhat used up world – so much pressure on so many things. To take joy and expand love is the best antidote I can think of, along with keeping your island intact (metaphorical and real!) even though it doesn’t solve all things to our perfect satisfaction. Sounds like you are working toward this end, anyway, and we wish you some peace in the transitions. Hugs from Jamie and Shawn…

  17. Deborah says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, and I keep your furbaby in prayer for a wonderful healing.

    We went through the same thing on our ten acres when we first moved here. Lost two dogs to cars eventually and then three years ago we knew there was no getting away from it; we would have to bite the bullet and put up some fencing. Luckily, my dh’s small auto shop had a good week and we had some connections so were able to have a chain link fence installed giving our furbababies a place to get some fresh air and exercise. It’s about 30′ X 70′ with one gate. (wish there were two)

    It’s maddening, because they miss running all over. Nothing to be done about it, though.

    Unfortunately, we all have to deal with these horrors of life at one time or another. Until people decide to slow it down in every way from procreating to the way they drive, there will be one crisis after the other. It’s hard to run away from people anymore.

    Keeping you all in prayer and hopes for a brighter day soon. Things will get better.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, Deborah, I wish it was as easy as putting up a fence here! Rocky terrain on the side of a mountain in the woods is impossible to fence. The only thing we can think of is to put up some natural barriers, maybe some dense bushes along the property line to slow them down. We do have a gate at the driveway and we’ve been keeping that closed all week. Chloe and Sade heard a car today and ran up the driveway and was stopped by the gate. That won’t last long, they will figure out fairly quickly to head in another direction. Abbi is the main dog that runs in the road though. Ugh.

  18. I’m so sorry for the loss of Dale’s mother and for poor Abbi. What a terrible series of events- I hope the coming weeks and months bring you the peace and serenity that you moved there for. I remember when our dog was hit by a car and had a total hip replacement. He could not get up by himself for two weeks, so you can imagine the difficulty in getting him outside to go to the bathroom. We had to make a sling out of a long beach towel to put under his belly and lift his hindquarters with. Several times he peed on himself and he was so ashamed! He never messed in the house and you could see the humiliation in his eyes when it happened. I hope Abbi recovers quickly, and I know what a financial hardship it is when dogs require that kind of extensive surgery and follow up care, so I’m sure that is also stressful. But- at least spring is coming! Warm weather, sunshine, birdsong- and for you and Dale, I hope it also brings carefree days on the lake and healing, all around. 🙂

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, poor boy. Yes, Abbi had an accident last night. the vet’s office told me after the fact that I shouldn’t have let her have that much water at once. Bladder repair as she had is a major, complicated operation and it will take lots of time, they tell me. Thanks so much for your note. Yes, we keep hoping for spring. At the beginning of the week, we almost needed the air. This morning, we needed the heater. Sigh.

  19. HeatherL says:

    So sorry about your loss. I hope Abbi makes a rapid and complete recovery.

  20. Carol says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your mother-in-law. Even when it is expected, it is so very hard to bear.

    I’m sending healing thoughts to Abbi for a quick and total recovery.

    I try to manage the major changes in my life, which right now are many, with an eye to the future and making my home a safe haven.

    Our world is getting smaller with all of the ways to travel and electronic media. I love that I can go to my little house, make plans for the big move, and get the respite I need. I like to be quiet and rest my thoughts from the life changing events. But often I find myself just avoiding issues to stop the overload of people, events, and stresses. Not the best way to cope, but I try to take one at a time, deal with it, and go on. Not much choice. With a job change coming up, health issues for myself and my husband, sometimes it feels like I’m just putting a bit of water on each fire to hold off the forest fire. But I keep a positive attitude that all things will be managed and life is still good. I intend to keep living large!

    • Kerri says:

      Thank you, Carol, for your well wishes. I think dealing with things one at a time is a good plan. Today, I’m so tired. Abbi did not have a restful night and we’re to go to the memorial tomorrow for my m.i.l. As they say, this too, shall pass, but it will alter our little world for good.