Grieving a home??? Living intentionality... also means facing your truths.

A home. Not a house, is a complex entity.... a place of happiness, pain, real trauma, anxiety, beauty, powerful memories both good and bad. 

Not a psychologist or doctor of the inner working of the brain, so I cannot explain from a medical standpoint any of this...
But I am an adult woman, mother of many children, wife, sister, daughter, cousin, friend, acquaintance, stranger. And definitely a complex entity.

For so many years I have had the same place to ‘go home to’. And what’s funny, or not, it wasn’t always a place of peace. Or comfort. As a matter of fact as a child I’d spend as much time with my great aunts at their home as I was allowed to. That home was filled with some amazing memories. Family secrets I’d learn, connecting with generations past, learning my heritage and spending time with my best friend (who was my Aunt Margaret). I don’t even think I properly said goodbye to that house. I occasionally drive by it with fond memories. As a matter fact the house that I lived in before with my parents is also connected to that house and that street by the backyard.

Growing up I went to daycare and before getting kicked out of all of them, one of the places that I attended was on Hillside Road. Being so young I have no idea how my parents decided to acquire that house. I know that as a person who does not remember a lot of memories or specific things in general- likely due to some kind of trauma cover-up, head injuries, brain fog, ADHD, who knows what the hell else... BUT I do remember daycare there, and even what it looked like as daycare. 

I think I’ve mentioned it before but as funny as it is, I was the person who swore the moment I turn 18 I was leaving never to return! 
And yet I ended up probably staying there the longest, even eloping at 19-(don’t do that)- we lived there too...Not for long let’s just say, wait let’s not say.. that can be for another day- another blog... or never.
After spending years never actually making a decision for ME. Always following, running, fight or flight... years of growing, I realized I actually truly am the person who wants to be home and have a commune with my family.

Ever since my mother was diagnosed with rare eye diseases causing her to lose her sight and my father has medical issues as well, Lee and I have always discussed them living closer... we discussed adding on an in-law apartment, we discussed building on the same lot a separate home, we looked at a few homes already built over the years but we could never quite get them out of that house... until one Saturday afternoon. My mother in law told me there was a house for sale in the neighborhood. I quickly looked it up and immediately knew it was perfect for my parents. Exactly what they’d talked about, and just doors down from us.
I told my mother, but the catch was she had to see it that day and offers were due 2 days later. Now, she is not a person who makes quick decisions ever. Like ever. But she looked it up and an hour later we all knew it was their house. 
So here we are. The end of this week my childhood home will belong to a new couple starting out. Making their own memories.

Everything belonging to my parents is out of the house, they are settled in, and we are all loving being able to see them much more, even walking over just to say hi. But, there were a couple of my items left for me to grab, and I’ve been avoiding it. With the news that we are just 2 days from closing, I decided I needed to go over alone and have a few moments there.

For 34 years it has been a major part of my life. There was a lot to unpack. I am someone who, although has a million and one repressed memories, is triggered by a smell, a song, an object. I feel it deeply when it happens. I can’t quite tell if I like this or it makes me uncomfortable to have to feel. 

So after my doctors appointment tonight, I made my way over. It was on the way back anyway. I traveled the same route I used take to and from work. I went through the neighborhood I walked in thousands of times. Thought about all of the times I walked to friends houses, to school, into the woods to explore.
I drove down the same hill and pulled into the driveway. Most of the houses look exactly as they did growing up. Nostalgia every time. 

Tonight was different. It’s the last time I will be there. I walked into the backyard I played in every single day. I walked to the trees my cats are buried under. I walked to the back where the cement holes are still there from our swing set I’d be on for hours listening to my Walkman. I walked to the edge of the yard and looked at where I buried all of my hamsters, rats, lizards, frogs and whatever else I’d bring home over the years.
I gazed beyond at the big hill we’d sled down... even when we weren’t supposed to. 
I thought about how we’d make “houses” amongst the trees, little fire places too and use rocks to separate our “property”. I always had the same property. I’d even feed or convince my cousins and brother to eat leaves because we had no money for food 😳. 
I thought about and swear I could hear everyone laughing. We were surrounded by kids on the street. I thought about the neighbor across the way and how he’d give us full sized candy bars all the time. Or next door how they always had pugs and no matter what I’d always all them neighbor lady and neighbor man. The wife of the candy man still lives there. Neighbor Lady still lives there. The man across the street still lives there.

I walked back and inside the house. With everything gone I immediately realized it didn’t smell the same. 
I flipped on the same light from my childhood, as I’ve done thousands and thousands of times. I looked around at how strange it was empty. Yet the structure and so much of it is the exact same as it was growing up. 

I started through each room. I cried a little. I looked at everything. The light switches, the marks on the walls or floor- each tell a story. The rooms I’d painted over the years. The same green counter top. The cupboards. Everything the same. Where the table was and how my dad would come home to use the bathroom or grab a bite to eat. His gun belt on the table, calling in that he’d be out of service for a few. I could hear the radio. I could smell his uniform.

I thought about the negative memories. Yelling, breaking things out of anger. Me. My own negative memories. I walked through each room. Looking at everything closely. Taking it all in. I stoped in the living room and remembered how my mother would come home for lunch every day in her ugly blue detective car. Always at 1:00 for All My Children and how I loved watching with her. I walked up the stairs. I went into my childhood room. I noticed there were still, after all of these years 3 glow in the dark stars stuck to the floor. 
As a young teenager I piled many mattresses up so my bed was high. I had stars on the ceiling, walls and floor so when it was dark it looked as though I was floating in space.
I sat in the closet and cried again. Thinking about how’d whenever I was afraid I’d take my cat in with me and we’d lay on the bed I’d made in there. I took a few moments.
Getting up as I did one last walk around the room, I remembered learning how to listen through the floor to conversations in the kitchen. I knew the exact place to put my ear to hear what the mood of the day or night would be. 

I went into the bathroom- same floor, shower, sink, tile, mirror.. same little closet my brother and I used to use as forts. There was a top and a bottom. We kept treasures inside each of our own forts and when each door closed we could talk and hear each other. 

I went Into my parents room. I could picture where everything was. I looked in the closet where my father kept his duty weapon. We were never allowed near it but of course every time I snuck up I’d go look at it.
I remembered how as I got older I somehow convinced everyone to move rooms and that became mine. I smiled thinking about how no matter how much chaos there was, how much anger, how much hurt or sadness, how much trauma, somehow I always had friends who stayed. They loved being there. 
I loved having them there. It didn’t stop me from fighting but it did make it more bearable.
My mother would always make me breakfast sandwiches as I left. Cinnamon raisin bagel with egg and cheese.

I went back down and did the same in the other rooms. I went into the basement where I again had a room for some time. There are reminders on the walls. There are memories good and bad.

I walked the whole basement and as I was getting ready to leave, I went back to my room to turn the light off. Something under the heater caught my eye. I got it out. Now remember the house is empty. There have been many who’ve come and gone over the last month as it’s been cleaned out. But there was this paper. I opened it and it was something I’d written at 13. A piece about sadness and darkness. I snapped a shot of it and sent it to my husband. I’d gone there alone to unpack the 34 years of trauma... and here was something that summed it all up. 
Ironic. Crazy actually. And with that I knew it was okay. I’d survived, barely at times. I’d grown up and made good and bad choices. I’d started my own family.

I good night mooned the whole place. I thanked it. I did one more thing I’d done many times before and was grateful I’d remembered to do it one last time. 
I smiled. I turned of the lights off. I closed and locked the door. I realized I’d left the outside light on so after this big movie style closure I laughed and unlocked the door, reached in and shut it off.

None of us are the same people we were in that house growing up. All of our relationships are beautiful now. Sometimes it’s hard to believe some of the crazy memories are even real. Sometimes my brother will mention something and I say wait that really happened???

I drove home and passed my parents house and saw the lights on and smiled again. Their new home is beautiful. It’s perfect for them and it’s right here. My children get to have their Nena and Papa right here. I’m so grateful.

I have learned so much about myself being a mother. Healed parents, parent differently. I’ve worked on healing from my past and each year, each child, each situation, I try to become a better version of myself.

2021 is about living with intention for me personally. That means real feelings, real work, real truths. I encourage you to live with intention. Mindfully. Looking deeper at everything. The sky, the flowers, nature in general. A gift. Listening more. Talking less. Understanding more, but tolerating the negative less. Life is busy. So busy. But this really connects and grounds you. It can be so easy to be overwhelmed. Try it.
Little things. Little changes. See what happens. Heal when you need to. Grow when you need to. Change when you need to.

Happiness is a choice. There will always be negatives in our lives. It’s okay to process and feel those too. Use them to grow.
I wish you the same growth and healing if you need that too. If someone reading this needs to hear it: it’s okay to let things, people, places go that you have outgrown. It is okay to move forward. It can be scary to confront and admit it. But the healing that comes with that truthfulness inside of you is priceless. 🙏🏼

1 comment

Louise Gilmore
Louise Gilmore

Thank you

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