On Becoming Other than Home

A week ago I walked through my house for the last time before handing the keys over to the new owner. After 8 years, the house was no longer mine. I was glad to have sold it, but felt miserable over the sale at the same time. I loved the house’s gleaming kitchen counters, the reading nook built in the porch. I loved the wooden floors and the tall ceilings, the elm out front so large that it hid my house from view on Google’s satellite map. But it was no longer my home.

I hadn’t lived in the house in months, and it was simultaneously so empty and yet so full. Empty of its brown cardboard boxes and plastic bins, empty of the books and beds and tables. Empty too of the toys and chairs and cats, empty of the people. Full though, with memories. Here was the room where my son learned to walk, to crawl, to smile his sweet baby smile, and the room where he spoke his first word. But there was also the yard and the steps where my husband died and only once in those months had I managed to make myself enter that yard, running from the garage to the house as fast as I could without pausing to look even once where it might have happened.

Unlike those weeks after my brother died where I drove the highway over and over searching for some kind of sign, a dent in a guard rail that might tell me where the accident happened, in this case I did not want to know where my husband had died. I did not want to see it, to imagine him there. Maybe it was because I wanted to imagine him alive because it seemed wrong to be so angry at someone so dead, wrong to be angry with him, and so I was angry with myself for being so angry, and angry with a universe that kept giving me endings. Endings I didn’t want. Endings that were tragic or unexpected. Endings that were unsatisfying. Not like the books I so often choose to read, with endings that are predictable, even if implausible, endings that do not hurt.

And so this house I walked through was no longer my home, too full of his ghost to leave room for me to even breathe properly in. And I just wanted, more than anything, to be in the middle of the story again. Not stuck in a universe of last pages, where I had run out of the right words to start something new.

*for details on the benefit for Ian, visit the fundraising site here:


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