Even after I grew up and had children and did my best to make a home for my family in a bland little house in a state 900 miles away, the house where I grew up has always been home for me. And now it will be home for someone else. It seems impossible somehow. It makes me feel like I have lost my center, although to be honest, I have felt like that for some time now. Since October 12, 2010, to be precise.
In the back bedroom, that was once blue and then pink and now a cool green, I slept on an antique bed next to my sister, who slept on it's twin. On those beds in that room, we whispered, talked, giggled and occasionally bickered away thirteen sister years. I brought my newborn baby back to that house and nursed him in that same bed. While he noshed contentedly at my breast, I looked up at the same ceiling that had been the silver screen for the fantastic tales I wrote in my head, starring me and Rick Springfield. Then Michael Jackson. Then Simon LeBon. An everchanging cast, but the same humble theatre year after year.
I gazed at the wall where we had pasted a variety of posters and pages and dubbed it "The Hunk Wall". I noted the same cracks and bumps, the same light fixtures, the same closet door that would never stay all the way shut, and thought about how time can stand still in some ways, but also rush crazily past like Friday traffic on a sunny weekend.
On another visit, when tucking both my little boys into those same twin beds, that thought struck me again.
The day my mother died, I tucked my now older, but certainly not grown up boys into those beds once again; a familiar ritual that should have been comforting. But this time, they were sad and nervous. Hours earlier, the grandmother who had been larger than life and seemed invinceable despite the oxygen and the ever present wracking cough, had expired mere feet from where they lay. And this time, instead of being comforted by the big old house, they feared it's secrets. Nobody had been home when she died. We don't know what happened. But it was clear a battle had been fought.
That unsettled them. It unsettled me. And then I realized that even in that house, in that room; host to my childhood fancies and teenaged dreams...time does not really stand still. It is not the stalwart and steadfast friend I had always believed it to be. It's constancy was nothing but a cruel illusion.
It was a harsh reality to face and I didn't really have the strength just then. Now I have no choice. The house is being sold, and it's time to accept that it will soon play host to someone else's dreams.
So I'm planning a trip. It's going to be a journey in more ways than one, and I can't say it's one I'm happy to be making. But that's the way life is. It moves on whether we are ready or not. And I am not. Not at all. I'm not ready not to have a place where I can go and absorb the memories and the essence of my mother. It sounds like a strange thing to say, but the house was her and she was the house. When it's gone, she will be gone. Which is silly. But telling myself it's silly doesn't make it any less true for me. Rationale and heartache don't always agree, I suppose.
I'm going to say goodbye to a house. I'm going to mourn a home.
And then I'm going to carry on, because it's the only thing to do.