Closing Doors.

Today our rental house officially went on the market. I’ve been looking at the pictures posted for the listing, and it all feels very surreal. The house has been totally made over, and it’s not the one from my youth.

In the snow in 2011

While my husband and I now own the house, it was my childhood home and my parent’s first home together long before my husband and I bought it.

That house holds 30 years of my family’s history. It is, in a way, as much a part of us and who we are as any one member of my family. Nearly everything that has ever been significant has happened there.

I still remember our first night in it in December of 1986. I was a few weeks away from turning five years old, and while the details of much of that age are fuzzy, I clearly remember packing up our duplex across town and leaving for the last time. I remember being sad when my bedroom was empty, and being thrilled to have found a long missing My Little Pony just a few minutes before I climbed in the U-haul. My daughter has that toy now, and it still to this day looks like it spent months lost in a shrub.

I remember my dad forgetting to empty the shed, and having to strap our remaining belongings to the roof of his car because we were completely out of room to put them anywhere else. I also remember my mom laughing her ass off at how ridiculous it looked.

We managed to get to our new house pretty late, and ended up in sleeping bags in what would be my parent’s bedroom, watching Cheers before we fell asleep. It was so exciting, and I loved the house immediately.

My brother and I grew up in that house. Honestly, we all did. My parents were young when they bought it, and so much life happened to all of us in the years spent in their first home. It hosted countless birthday parties and sleepovers, saw our best and worst moments, and held our happiest times. That house is essentially where I dated my husband in high school, because my parents weren’t too keen on hormone-crazed teenagers having hours unattended out of the house. I was mad as hell initially, but those times all together made my husband truly part of my family, and built a relationship between he and my parents that has been priceless.

In 2006, my parents made the decision to move to Hollywood, Florida, and my husband and I made the decision to buy their house. So this place that had been my parent’s first home together now became our first as well. It was a strange transition initially, to be able to now make this place our own, but I think we did that well. Our house became the place for our friends to spend time together, and hosted several year’s worth of New Years and July 4th parties.

In 2009, our house became our oldest daughter’s first home as well. My brother’s old bedroom was now her nursery, and the house took on a whole new meaning. My parents had since moved back home from Florida. They loved it there, but the pull of my daughter being on the way was enough to make them drop everything as quickly as possible, and thankfully my dad’s job at the time was able to transfer him. They moved in with us to help with the baby and due to the quick transition, and it honestly worked out great. My daughter spent her first few years surrounded by four adults who adored her.

In 2010, I was sitting in our office when I took the phone call that informed me that my mom had breast cancer. Then our home became something else. It’s where my mom rested from grueling rounds of chemo and radiation, where we all spent sleepless nights trying to figure out where life may be going, all while trying to shield my daughter from the effects. It’s where I shaved my mom’s hair for her, when the pain of it falling out due to chemo began to outweigh the fear of losing it. It’s where she came home only hours after a mastectomy. It’s where she fought to recover from the endless side effects of fighting cancer, and it seemed like she would always fight through.

In 2011, my husband, daughter and I moved to a home we had built just a few miles away, and my parents stayed behind. For the first time since they first bought it, my parents had this place to themselves. It was obvious how much they enjoyed now making this house, in our family for so long at this point, truly their own. I loved watching it, and I loved escaping there at times to spend time alone with them, now their grown daughter, and talk for hours about everything under the sun. I cherish that time.

In February 2014, my mom left that house in an ambulance, and for the last time. We would find out a couple hours later in the ICU that she was being ravaged by the flu, and that it was winning. Nearly four months later, it would take her from us.

For over a year, I couldn’t stand to set foot in the house. Eventually though, it was something that became necessary for me to be able to move through this grief. I went alone one night, when no one knew I was going, and no one was home. It broke my heart to see it the way she had last seen it. I had to do it, but it was awful. I probably cried harder that night than I had in months.

For a time it seemed like being there again one day might be healing. It’s not. I still look for my mom when I walk through the house. It’s been completely remodeled, but I still see it as it was, and I just see her missing from it. After a lot of talk, and a lot of prayer, and a lot of thought, my husband and I decided along with my dad that selling it was the only way to move forward. We’ve gone through my mom’s things, we’ve emptied the house; it’s time for it to be someone else’s home.

My brother said something one day as we were discussing my conflicted feelings over selling the house, and it helped me to truly know what I needed to do. He asked me if I really wanted to make new memories in the house, or if I wanted to keep the ones I had – the ones with our mom in it. It was the last thing I needed to hear to make up my mind.

So this will be a new phase, when the house does sell. To let it go will be another step in a series of seemingly impossible ones. But I know it’s not a place anymore that will bring us together and make us happy. Not in the same way. And I don’t want to cover those memories. I want to keep them. We’ve lost a lot, and I can’t handle the thought of also losing our history by making a future in it.

So that house will become someone else’s future. It will hopefully have new children playing and laughing in it, the way my brother and I did, and the way my first child did. It can be a place for people who can live their lives in it too, and maybe grow old in it. I hope for that.

And I’ll keep dreaming of my house that I love so much – hopefully forever – sitting on the couch with my mom, catching her up on everything she’s missed.

6 thoughts on “Closing Doors.

  1. This post brings tears to my eyes, truly it does. I can only imagine how difficult this step is for you in the grieving process. But I agree with your brother’s thoughts with keeping the memories you have. And it is nice to know, someone else will create new memories there. Wonderful post, thank you for sharing this and I hope your day is a happy one. 🙂

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