Relief – and it has only just begun. After a series of phone calls and emails I finally received the mortgage modification package that means I get to keep my house, my home. That’s what I hoped was in the FedEx envelope left on my kitchen step today. After a year and a half of struggling to regain financial footing through a process that was un-intuitive, I’d built up so much caution and anxiety that seeing the package was only a slight relief. Finance, emotion, and bureaucracy operate at different speeds. All seem to be aiming towards relief.
For those who are late to the story, a Triple Whammy whacked my sem-retired finances and dropped me into losing almost everything (I even had to sell art! – my own), scrambled to work every Backup Plan, stop making mortgage payments, live on debt while waiting for Backup Plans to produce enough money to pay for the essential bills, then almost all of the bills except housing, then finally begin making trial payments for a possible Mortgage Modification. There you go. Almost two years of financial turmoil, anxiety attacks, with very few days off, condensed to one run-on sentence that most folks will skip or skim rather than read. Such is the case with almost every person’s personal struggle. Few of us take the time to listen to every episode and chapter in another person’s turmoil. I don’t blame anyone. Who has the time? Besides, by definition it is more fun to talk about the celebrations than the sorrows.
We can’t all listen to every detail of everyone’s life. Listening to every detail about one person’s life would take longer than a lifetime. We must edit, but not entirely. Everyone should have a last a few close friends who will at least acknowledge every episode, and listen more when it matters most. Complete understanding is not required. Complete compassion is appreciated, but sainthood is a very tall criterion, so good listening will suffice. Hugs, both for the good news and the bad news, can be worth more than words.
I’m lucky enough to have some dear friends who have answered the call by simply answering the phone. Rather than open the envelope on my own, I called one and asked them to stay on the line as I undid the seal and skimmed the pages. The package looked thinner than expected. Maybe the mortgage company had decided to foreclose and it was just a notice. But, that was my anxiety speaking. The emails and phone calls told my logical brain that it would all be alright. Simply listening as I babbled and pulled out the pages, my friend was treated to a big sigh of relief. The package actually was a mortgage modification. The mortgage modification was for the amount they’d suggested with the trial payments that would be Maybe A Mortgage Modification.
My anxiety remained though because the end of the month was less than a week away. The mortgage company had called me to tell me the new payment amount, that it was due July 1, and that I’d have to return the package by July 13. That meant I had just sent the check earlier in the day for an amount I hoped was the same as was in the package. I was also anxious about filling out the forms. It was supposed to be a 24 page package. A 24 page package could involve days of collecting financial records, and appendices could blossom out into dozens of more pages. Earlier packages had been major time commitments.
Anxiety slowly melted into sighs then grins then smiles. The 24 pages were almost completely legalese with a few lines of details pertinent to my situation and only required my signature in various places, and I shouldn’t even sign them until I was in the presence of a Notary Public. After I dearly thanked my friend I looked over the 24 pages again because something looked peculiar. The situation was even simpler than I thought. Eleven of the pages were duplicated. The already small workload shrunk by about half.
For those in similar situations go back through my posts with the tags of mortgage or foreclosure for the steps I’d taken. For details of the specific implications for me and this mortgage, my original ~6%-ish 30 year mortgage has been replaced with a variable mortgage stretched out over 40 years that starts at 2% and ramps up within seven years to a value that is only 60% of my original payment. They even forbore a few thousand dollars of principal. I get to stay in my house, my home, for less than rent. Whew.
The finances have come back into line, with nice upside potential.
The bureaucratic processes aren’t to be trivialized. The package was dated June 13, giving me a month to respond, but it wasn’t actually sent out via FedEx until June 24 at which point it dutifully showed up at my house on June 25. My task of filling out the paperwork correctly is too critical to let go without review, even as simple as it is; and I’ll make sure it has a tracking number when I send it back. The process has been un-intuitive often enough that I make as few assumptions as possible.
The emotional response is undoubtedly the most complex. Even now, hours after opening the package I have yet to let out a whoop or a holler. A series of sighs, a bit of pacing to walk off energy, and a few neck exercises are about all I’ve managed for a celebration – even with the aid of a relaxing beverage on a gorgeous day. I’ll be more relieved when I’ve received the return receipt from the package return delivery and see the first mortgage statement with the correct amount. It may take weeks or months to not habitually look at my front door looking for a foreclosure notice when I return home from work. It may take weeks or months to not feel my heart race when a car slows down outside or someone walks up to my door. It will take weeks and months to reinvigorate my socializing because I am only able to maintain these finances by working seven days a week. (Hey, I’ve taken 3, maybe 4, days off this year!) It will take months, probably years to catch up on deferred maintenance, Dammed Plans, and delayed dreams; unless my finances dramatically improve, and I have reason for optimism.
Summer has officially begun. My previous season went on for almost three years. I’m glad to see optimism remains, that relief is increasing, and that potentials are arising. I hope that is the case for more than just me.