Remember Us

We’re moving to a new house in less than a week, the reality of which hit me the other day.  You’d think it would have sunk in sooner – maybe when the guy accepted our offer, or when we went over to see how the master closet was coming along, or when we closed on the house.  We own it, but we don’t live there yet so it hasn’t felt like ours.

But then we secured a date to move in, and bam, it was actually happening.

“Hooray!”  That should be my only reaction.  But it’s not.  Besides a bit of panic about getting packed, I find myself feeling sad.  Really?  After a year and a half of looking, after two months of hoping it would be ours and another month of waiting to move, now I’m sad?  Yep.

I’ll readily admit that I’m fickle.  I want what I want when I want it, unless I then decide I don’t, until I do again. Like a pregnant woman deciding what to eat.  It makes no sense.  But that’s the nature of emotions – they can surprise you no matter how in touch with them you are.  We’ve recounted the reasons we’re excited to move: no more waiting ‘til everyone wakes up in the morning to shower, because our house is so small a creaking floorboard can act as an alarm clock; no more listening to the kids’ cds playing in the loft upstairs at bedtime while we try to watch tv downstairs (Veggie Tales and The Walking Dead do not mix); no more trying to make breakfast and pack lunches with five bodies in the galley kitchen, the two year old saying “S’cuth me,” to all of us big ol’ people in her way; no more saying goodbye to everyone ‘til spring when cold weather hits because there’s nowhere for them to sit in our tiny house.  Do you sense a theme?  Yes, tiny.  I’m excited for space.  For our five bodies, and lots of others’.  For sleepovers  and Thanksgiving dinners and birthdays.  So why the sadness?

Because despite the annoying aspects of our house, it has been our home for six years.  It was our first house.  The only one Lily or Mae has known.  The house on the best block ever, with the best neighbors and the old-school brick street.  With the giant Sycamore out front that glimmers in spring and summer and drops giant, easily-raked leaves in fall.  Where my dad and uncle spent sixteen hours putting together the playset out back.  In front of which we’ve taken family photos, jumped in piles of leaves, ran through the sprinkler, tried and failed and tried again to plant flowers in the shade, held lemonade stands, ridden bikes, swung on the porch swing saying hi to everyone walking their dogs, carved pumpkins and built snowmen.  Where we spent six cozy Christmases, where the dishwasher swished and sloshed us to sleep each night, where we held awesome dance parties in the kitchen.  It’s full of our memories as a family.  And even with all it’s faults, it has served us well.  It’s hard to say goodbye.

We’re only moving a mile away, so we can certainly visit often, reminiscing about our sweet little bungalow.  But as always happens, things will change.  Someone will paint it another color, or add on or, worst of all, let the house go.  Weeds may grow, paint may chip, windowsills may rot and be left to their own devices.  And that will be a shame.  But I can’t control the future.  Only remember the past and enjoy what’s happening now.  The good thing is, both are pretty great.

So goodbye little house.  No matter what happens in your future, remember us.  We will remember you.  With time your faults will fade and you’ll be only soft and rosy in our memories – the place we started Us in full force.  The place we first called home.  We’ll always love you for that.

Sledgehammer

          I wrote a post about a year ago regarding our dear friends who, at the time, were deciding whether to move out of state.  I knew if they did we’d be saying some tearful goodbyes and it would hurt.  For a long while.  And the update is that they did, in fact, move, and it does, in fact, hurt.  About the same amount I suspected: immensely.
          A few weeks ago, the mom and two daughters visited.  It was like nothing had changed – laughing, talking, kids making a mess, swords and barbies and ice hockey on baking pans – but the knowledge of limited time ran like a current through every moment.  I was nearly able to ignore it, but not entirely.  The crackle of “tomorrow they’ll leave” got louder with every minute, until the tomorrow came, they packed in their car, and again we watched them drive away.  I was in a rush to get my kids hustled off to church, so the reality didn’t sink in for a bit, but when it did it sure did.  The rush of sadness came back, the feeling of loss, the ache of knowing they couldn’t come over tomorrow or the next day or the next.  And whenever we saw them again the same electric feeling of time slipping away would exist.  The easy, every-day part of our friendship was gone.  Replaced with a special, every-once-in-a-while one.  And that just hurt.  And still does.
          Luke and Lily made welcome-back signs for the kids and taped them to the front porch, watching for their minivan, bursting with anticipation.  When the girls did arrive the squeals and hugs and pure excitement made me realize the significance not only for me, but for my kids, of having friends like this.  The look on Luke’s face when he gave his buddy a hug was the one he saves for the people he loves most.  Not just likes, not just gets a kick out of, but truly, deeply loves.  This was a loss for my children, too.  I knew that.  But sometimes you get hit in the face with the truth of something.  This was one of those times.  And it left a bruise.
          I know that it is not the end of the world.  Not literally.  But it feels like the end of our world.  Like the end of an era.  The closing of a fabulous chapter.  There will be others, and this is not the falling action part of the story – like a novel, life has many little climaxes and resolutions.  This is only one.  But tell that to my heart, because it feels like death.  You may think that’s ridiculous.  Overly dramatic and an insult to those who have actually suffered the death of loved ones.  If so I apologize for what seems like naivete or outright disrespect.  But I can’t take it back.  To me, this is how it feels.  And whether you, or I, or my kids like it, it’s going to feel this way for a while.
          I can chalk it up to another of life’s frustrations and disappointments that will, in time, lead to wisdom and compassion and perseverance.  It is and it will.  But for now it just burns.  The hard part is willingly letting it do so without trying to put up fireproof walls around my heart.  I’m going to keep trying.  I can’t say I’ll succeed – I may need to take a sledgehammer to brick and mortar from time to time.  But even now, writing this, I’m letting myself feel the pain.  In all it’s heat and miserable glory.