People who say that moving is easy are even crazier than me. Or maybe it's just easy for people who haven't spent 16 years of their life in one home. Maybe that was my mistake I should have moved sooner. Unfortunately, it just wasn't possible at the time. I was excited at first. A new home. A place that wasn't filled with grief and trauma. The house hunting was exhausting and at times I felt like I would never find the right place. Everyone kept saying, just find a place that feels right to you. My mind kept searching though because it wasn't just me it was my family too. I needed a space that felt good to them too. my kids are old enough that they will remember this part of their life. They will remember the move, the house, their rooms, the memories made. I know when I was 14 how important my room was to me. a space that was mine. The other thing friends and family would say.. "You will just know." And in the end, I did know. The only part that I really wasn't prepared for was the extreme sadness I would feel in leaving home. I knew it would be hard. But, I didn't expect it to feel so much like Pete's death all over again.
Maybe because it wasn't a normal closing. People sell their houses, pay off the debts, fix what the inspectors say needs to be fixed, then sign the papers, and receive a check. Mine didn't go that way at all. two weeks before I was supposed to close the title company said my deed was invalid since the kids weren't listed as heirs. What the hell?! Since when do toddlers and unborn children get a 1/6 of property? But, whatever. So my amazing lawyer created a new document that added the kids. But that wasn't enough. Now I needed a protective order over my own children. And finally a hearing that appointed me as their guardian (apparently being their mother wasn't enough, I had to have the court tell the title company it was enough) So get the protective order, the new deed, send over new documents, attach Pete's obituary, (Where they got this vague obit from, is dumb, but again, whatever) Send them the right one, sign my name again, and get the go-ahead to have a closing.
Set the time of the closing, only to have it rescheduled again because paperwork wasn't received during bank hours. Finally, the day arrives, I got stuck in traffic, and got to my closing 15 minutes late. I walked into the office and the buyers realtor wasn't present and neither was the buyer. What the hell? come to find out, the buyer lives in Califonia and won't be there. But not only that, I found out the buyer was an investor. WTF. in one breath my hope that a family or empty-nester flies out the window. I wanted this house to be a home to someone who needed it, someone who could make it their home. I know I have no control over that. But its what I pray for, it was my intention. And yet again, I was met with "whatever."
So, I sat down to sign my life away. When unbeknownst to my realtor we would be signing today but that I would not be receiving my check today. Umm what? I was not about to sign anything without knowing where the final payment was coming from. Like Why would you sign a legal binding document and just "hope" that the final transactions would come through? That wasn't going to work for me. Needless to say I started to freak out. Everything that it took to get to that day was catching up and I was starting to hyperventilate. Of course, I wasn't going to show that I was feeling that. So I told four people to leave the room while I talked to my realtor one on one. Once the doors closed, She said she had never had a closing go this way. She told me that basically the only thing we were waiting on was the paperwork. the lender needed the paperwork to come in before they would disperse the profits where they needed to go. We called the people back in, and the lender explained to me that everything would be signed then held in a locked area until they received the buyers documents. Once they had them in their hands they would file all the paperwork and wire the final checks. Ok, I signed and went home to wait.
Friday morning after everyone was at school I went over again to the little house. I had a few plants I wanted to split and take with me. I searched the ground and tall grasses, the overgrown trees, and found a few of my favorite rocks. I dug up some roots, pulled a few bulbs, and left the rest. Finally, I sat down on the swing, and the tears started to fall. I felt lost, empty, homeless, and heartbroken. Pete wasn't in the plants, the yard, the house, he just wasn't there. Even though I know he is anywhere I am. in those moments it didn't feel like it. Even though this little house didn't feel like home anymore. I have a beautiful new house with lots of space that my husband and children love, it doesn't feel like home either. I get it. You have to make it a home. I haven't had any time to make it a home. It's still filled with boxes, and the garage is so full you can't walk in it. My new house is fill with half projects with big ideas. Even in the midst of it all, the rational side of me knows that this is just part of it and that eventually, it would all be fine. But to the emotional side grief, loss, and emptiness, sat in my lap, in my heart, and in my soul. It felt very much like those last hours of his life.
I never thought he would die. I never did. I thought he would be that miracle. But, he wasn't. I knew it was coming, but I didn't know when. I knew the check was being wired, but, I didn't know when. How long did I have to sit in this yard to cry? Seconds? minutes? The day before, I sat alone in each room of my 1200 square foot house. I prayed God would restore my memories and I could recover the memories lost to trauma. I didn't want to just remember him being sick. I wanted to remember his laughter, his face, his smile. I wanted to remember the way he looked at the kids, I wanted to remember the way he looked at me. I wanted to remember our life together. I sat down in my daughters room with the garden mural on the wall, leaned my head against the wall, closed my eyes, and tried to remember. It was like watching a movie. So many black screens, with colors and vibrancy thrown in. I remembered him in the rocking chair with aryanna, reading books to her while he was at work, I remembered joy, laughter, and sadness. Moments that I know where important but fuzzy, like I needed to just adjust the focus, but it wouldn't let me. I took a deep breath and thanked the room, the memories that did come through, then stood up and hugged each wall. I walked into the boys room, marveled at the paint, sat down, and did it all over again. Then stood up, hugged the walls, thanked the room, and walked into the next room. I thanked each room for holding me close, for keeping my little family safe, for the joy, for the growth, for the beauty. But mostly as a whole, for raising me into the woman I have become. I couldn't have done it without a safe space to call home.
I sat on those swings and remembered these moments then looked at the clock, I had to go to an appointment. I left my shovel in the yard, I left my broken trowel that snapped when I tried to dig deeper under one of the roots. I went to my lesson, where I couldn't sing, just cry. Thanks so my amazing teacher she listened to me. She gave me encouragement and told me that my feelings were valid and that no, I wasn't Crazy. I left her house feeling better. Until I got the call. The transfer was complete and my realtor would be by later in the afternoon to get the keys. I raced back over to the little house, got my shovels, my plants, checked all the cabinets, then closed the door.
I don't wish my life to be different. I have already done the "what if' game and it never ends up any better. I don't wish to live in the past, but the finality of it, knowing that it will never be the same, takes my breath. I can see the whole picture of then and now. I can see God's imprint everywhere. I see Pete just as present in our life. I have had so many amazing things come out of such heartbreak. And honestly, I like who I have become. I don't think I would have arrived to the same conclusion had I not had all these experiences. But, there is still pain, there is still a loss, and there is still grief. I keep hoping that it will get better. It does and it doesn't. I do know that I take comfort in knowing I am stronger now in this moment than I was then. I take comfort in knowing that saying goodbye to my home was not nearly as hard as saying goodbye to Pete. In the end its just a house. It's just a yard.
I know Pete isn't in the stuff. He is In my heart. In the kids. Not just in their energy but really in them. He is in their laughter. He is in everyone who was ever touched by him. I have learned its because of his love for me, for the kids, for our life, for the man he was and for the spirit he has become, that healing takes place. It's because of this love, that I can move forward, that I can love again. In every layer of letting go, he is in all of it. Even in this new grief, this new layer of saying goodbye and letting go. I take these lessons, this grief, this goodbye, like keys in my hand that I handed over to the realtor. After all Its those keys that gave me the courage and the strength to do it. These tears are gratitude mixed with bittersweet memories. I look down at the new keys in my hand. These keys are tarnished around the edges with a scar down the center, but they sparkle with magic and new beginnings. The wind blows lightly across my face as a single white feather floats down and rests in my hand. I close my hand over it. With bittersweet tears, a smile, love in my heart, that I open the door and cross the threshold into my new home.