Yesterday I sat in the old house and burst into tears. Today, I locked the door and walked away.
So much was going through my mind: loss, sorrow, shame, frustration, memories and more.
The house is in pretty rough shape. With the pictures off the wall, the furniture gone, the curtains hanging in the new house, every little flaw is obvious. Every room needs painting, the floors need refinishing and the whole house needs a lot of TLC.
I remembered when we first walked through the house, newly painted and fresh 15 years ago. I remember wandering room to room planning our future. We even brought a bucket of KFC and had a picnic on the empty living room floor. I remember the possibility of it all. We were in our mid thirties and had finally bought a house! We sat and laughed, dreamed and planned. Then Life happened.
Jobs were lost and income varied. We made what we thought were good decisions but turned out to be serious mistakes. Finally the recession caught us and then the husbster got cancer. Everything changed in 2008 and I gave up on the house. I did fight for it for a couple of years all the while ignoring the debris, the gloom and the deterioration of it. I fought with blinders on.
Today I sat surrounded by the reality of dreams that never came to be. The walls never got painted in cheerful colors. The floors never got refinished and show 15 years of life with pets. The house echoes with my sobs. Outside, in symphony with my crying, it thunders and the rain begins, I remember so many times sitting and listening to the rain in this house. I loved that we could hear the train whistle and the rumble of the cars as it passed a few blocks away while the scent of lilacs drifted through the open window. I remember the relief of coming home after a long day at work to be greeted by my husbter and pets.
I miss all the pets that we had in that house, Higgy, Sniffypie, Mo, Buddy, Molly, Dennis the fish... I walked through each room remembering funny things they did. I find old cat toys and dog chewies in out of the way places. I see grooves where Buddy scratched the 2x4 studs in the basement, sharpening his claws for 14 years. I see the corners of walls Higgy marked by rubbing his cheeks against them leaving a faint brown mark about 12 inches above the floor. I feel their ghosts around me, circling as memories that are both joyful and heart rending.
I cried for the 30 something couple starting out full of hope and promise and the 50ish couple we have become. We are older, wiser and closer having survived the hubster's cancer and we are starting on a new journey. But first we must dispose of the debris of the prior stopping place. There is so much stuff. So much that we have held on to, hoarded, ignored. Stuff we thought we would use someday and now have no space for. Things I found or bought planning to fix up and incorporate into our home. Projects that never got completed and now are destined for a garage sale or dumpster.
Finally we have everything out. The floors are swept clean. The blinds are lowered and lights are turned off. I don't walk through the rooms one last time. I need no more pain. I remember the frustrations, the fear, the anxiety of the past two years. Two years of fighting with the bank over refinancing, scared to death we would be homeless. I recall the day the hubster walked up to me in the living room and said, "Hey, Em, can you look at this?" and saw the huge lump that would be diagnosed as Stage IV squamous cell carcinoma. I remember that this is the house where we got the phone calls that told us that my aunt, my brother, my cousin and my friend Alan also were diagnosed with Stage IV cancer the same month as the hubster. I remember that this is the house where we decided when it was time to let go of our suffering pets and returned later with a box of ashes.
Over the past few days I have become physically ill walking into the house. I thought it was the heat but now I wonder if it wasn't the last of my anger and bitterness working its way out.
The closing is in two days. But I have already signed off on this house.
I pray that the new owners who saw the potential as we did once, can actually make their dreams come true. I hope they can hear the echoes of laughter and love and not see the shadows and suffering we endured. I hope they will be happy and the house will bloom with their care.