He plopped on the bed jerking me awake and continued gagging. A smidgen of irritation welled up in me because I thought my husband stayed up too late cramming for another certification exam and became nauseous- but then I smelled it.
The skunk’s sprays seeped into our house from the space between our town home’s concrete stairs and our basement insulation then wafted up to the bedrooms in powerful waves. Kevin doubled over, gagged, then crawled his way to find relief in a porcelain bowl. Checking my phone, it was 4 AM and there was no way we could stay at home and no way I’d be able to go to work with skunk stench soiled clothes. Running down the hall, I closed Shiloh’s bedroom door to block the smell until I could quickly swipe at my grogginess and figure out what we needed to do to leave.
Kevin grabbed Luna-bug’s leash and settled into the car after pulling it around. I threw only the absolute essentials into bags, settled the two cats in a shut off bedroom in the house with an open window, and carried our sleepy little boy to the car. The rest of the morning was a blur at Kevin’s parents’ home, ten minutes away, of calling my sub plans into work, taking Luna-bug to doggy daycare, showers, and catching up on stolen sleep.
It would’ve been easy to stay away – to avoid – to hope without any effort or conflict with the stench that the house would all air out.
I couldn’t reason with the skunk, whom we have now named Pepé after Pepé le Pew. I couldn’t have a nice cup of coffee and biscuits and kindly explain what this house meant to me – how this is the place where I’ve never been sick – how I envision my new lease on life every moment I want through the door – or how I’m finally living the life I thought I’d have before cancer ever stomped its way into our lives. I also can’t do that with people. I can’t always use my recovery as an excuse for compassion or expect others to be kind in all situations. Sometimes, instead of running away, you have to reclaim what’s yours.
So, I entered our house last Friday afternoon and drove out the smell of skunk with boiled vinegar and lemons. I opened every window, released the cats, and we closed the holes allowing Pepé to come into our house as he pleased.
I needed to get brave, find courage, and stand my ground in house and life to evict all the Pepés and reclaim my what belongs to me – the peace in my house and heart.
Thank you and au revoir Pepé.