I pack boxes mindlessly, wordlessly, almost as if I am packing for someone else. Numbly, I lift another scrap book and heft it into a large box I just assembled. The room is nearly empty now, but I’ve mechanically categorized everything so as not to think, not to feel: clothes, books, knickknacks, photos.
Then I reach in a far corner of the built-in desk where, for nearly ten years, I have created cards of sympathy and celebration, folded laundry, gathered inspirational quotes, laughed with friends – many of them gone. Gone…
I gingerly open the scrap book in front of me, recalling when I made it nearly twenty years ago as a high school senior. The memories rush to the fore of my mind, and I choke back tears. They’re gone, I think, as my hand touches photograph after photograph of friends who have moved away or moved on, friends whose lives were shattered by gang violence or drug overdoses.
I cannot bear the pain that washes over me, but I pause for a fleeting moment and scan the room through blurry eyes. Life happened here, comes another thought, and then more tears, nostalgic ones this time. Our house is truly our home, a place that became more than a place, an extension of the heart.
Ben and I began the crux of our marriage in this home. We brought our rescue dog, Lily, into this house, then welcomed Felicity and Sarah. We’ve thrown parties and shared meals with friends here. We’ve cried together, fought hard, and prayed in desperation. We’ve been lonely, afraid, overjoyed, and now…uncertain.
I am on the precipice of change again, I sigh to myself as I snap the scrap book closed with finality. It signifies the completion of another phase of life, one that has been incredibly challenging but so beloved.
I’ve memorized the crevices of every corner here. I know this house. It’s been good to us. It’s stood tall throughout violent tempests and has never succumbed to a tornado or windstorm. It has sheltered us and welcomed many. The carpet is badly worn and stained, but the feet and paws that have ambled throughout have left their mark of love here.
It’s time to bid goodbye to this old, sturdy home and everything that has meant so much to me in memory and heart. The neighbors, our parish, the friends who have showered us with their time and sacrificed so much to help us with our darling Sarah – I must let go.
I hate letting go, creeps in my thoughts. I despise change. What now? God has gently been preparing me for this move, but I’ve found that, while I don’t want to hold on to the past, I’m not yet willing to release it. The past holds a part of my identity, carries with it life experienced, treasured, and valued. How will I know if the future promises the same?
As the what ifs make their presence known in my consciousness, I am torn. My heart lingers somewhere between then and when, and I can’t fathom the gift of what lies ahead. Maybe it’s because this home knows the ups and downs of all our travails, and I don’t know what will greet us in the next house. Will it be better, more than what we’ve shared and known here? Perhaps.
But there will be more heartaches and heartbreaks. There will be more of the tragedies and more triumphs. Before it all unfolds, before our new house becomes our home, I await the surprises and the adventures with trepidation and a dose of regret.
I wish I’d loved more, reached out to more people. I wish I would have left my mark here, arrives the next wistful thought. I turn off the light and close the door – another door closed is another door opening.
Text (c) 2019 Jeannie Ewing. Photo by Chaney Zimmerman on Unsplash
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