Once the tears started flowing, they wouldn’t stop.
I was alone in my house on Saturday morning, a dull, humid, overcast morning that cast a dreary glow on everything. Mike had gone out, and I was left home alone to do some work, and finish up packing. There were a still a few items in my house that inadvertently hadn’t been saved, boxed and moved to storage.
Up until now, I have been the stoic one. I have been quick to discard. I have not been overly sentimental. My friends cried as they said goodbye to my house at dinner last week, but I did not. It’s just a house- just things, after all, I thought. And Mike and I are starting a new chapter. New is exciting, fresh, energizing. This is the right time.
But as I walked around my house for one of the last times, I was overcome with an intense heaviness, sobbing as I went from room to room. It was the same kind of crying that emerged from deep within my gut when my mom and dad died. Big, heavy, sobs. The kind of sobs that make you question life decisions. What was I doing? I have loved this house for 30 years. We constructed this house with the help of my father. We raised three fabulous adults in this house, and built an amazing marriage.
I went from room to room, taking pictures of half empty rooms, regretting that I had not captured the house when it is was full or people and energy.
Here’s the empty couch in the den where I fell asleep almost every night while Mike scratched my head, the couch that comforted me, the TV that distracted me, and the afghan my grandmother crocheted that enveloped me as I recovered from chemo. Click. Carefully, I lifted the house dedication we had commissioned off the den wall and brought it to my heart.
Here’s the dining room table that I set beautifully every new year’s eve, channeling my mother’s creativity, and where friends and family gathered for countless events. Click.
Here’s the empty spot where the pool table used to be—right smack in the living room. Oh God, how my mother hated that pool table in the living room! But how she would have loved to see her family gathered around that pool table when we turned it into a gigantic Seder table for Passover. Click- on the empty space.
Here’s the screened in porch table where we dined on summer evenings. Click. I laughed remembering that my kids told us recently that they thought we built the porch so we would have a place to smoke pot that didn’t smell up the house. Definitely not true, but it became clear during their high school years why they would think such a thing. Leaving the room, I noticed tape on the ceiling where a happy birthday banner had been hung recently. Or was it old tape, left over from some past celebration? I got up on a chair, peeled it off.
Here’s the mudroom where I must have done 10,000 loads of laundry; the shower with the awesome water pressure; the backyard where graduations and summer birthdays were celebrated, where once there was a vegetable garden, a dog run, a volleyball net, a tetherball. Click, click, click.
I sat down to catch my breath in the chair that I sat in while Mike buzzed off all my hair off when it started to fall out during chemo, and then went back upstairs, without taking a picture.
Here’s the room, that was once a nanny room, where under the bed we found a bottle of Crown Royal after a call from my grandmother, who insisted that our nanny had taken the bottle from her house. That’s how we uncovered that we had hired a kleptomaniac nanny. Traumatic, yes, but it has remained a great story.
Later, post nannies, that same bedroom became my son’s room. Being the only boy child, we thought Eddie needed some privacy. With that privacy, he almost blew up the house, experimenting with a scented candle and some lighter fluid. I smiled at that memory too, because as we always say, “close doesn’t count.” Click.
Here’s the bedroom that once had ANNIE in pink block letters on the door (and that still has the same window treatments that she had as a little girl). And Melissa’s bedroom that had once been decorated in browns and blues, but became all girlie when she moved in with her flowered comforter and vast assortment of Barbies and American girls. Click, click.
I opened empty closets that once held trumpets, drums, and yes, even an accordion. I opened and closed drawers that I checked 5 times last week, just to make sure that I hadn’t overlooked a treasure.
So yeah, I admit it. I’m not a rock after all.
Felice says I should make this my theme song for the month of August…not a bad idea!