So I went back home a couple weekends ago and, although it’s only been 2 months since I last visited, I was hit with a ton of emotions. I was flooded with so many memories of this house – the familiar sounds of the floorboards creaking, the smell of the hand soap, and sights of my baby pictures hanging on the walls (Tom says they look like I had a mullet. It’s called a half up-do with bangs, okay?).
I even went through some of our old pictures from when I was a youngin’ that are stored in boxes upstairs. I sifted through pictures of me with my parents, my friends, and relatives during birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, and other random times. There are tons of silly pictures; this one didn’t seem out of the ordinary at first. I mean, it’s just me learning to read and write with my Dad. Ha, nice 40, Dad. Anyways, looking through these, I started getting a little anxious.
You see, my mom has been in a nursing home for almost 3 years now. She was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis back when I was 9 years old, and it’s definitely progressed over the last 15 years. She is not considered a “resident” because she has not fully signed the remainder of her life (she’s only 60) and her possessions over to them. But I think it might happen soon.
We’ve talked about it here and there, trying to decide what to do and when to do it; most of the hesitation concerns her losing her independence, something she has prided herself on for as long as I can remember. It is also so that when I come home to visit and such, I have my own house to stay in.
Even though I have had a love-hate relationship with this house, it will still feel as though I’ve lost something or someone dear to me. Not loss in the sense that it’s a possession and I have to give it up, it’s more from the memories I have of being there. Sleepovers with friends; cooking with my mom; playing in the street as a kid with the boom box playing Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys for the whole street to hear (how did my neighbors not hate us as kids?).
Then there are the many complaints I had of it growing up. My basement has always been unfinished and I have never been in our attic because it’s more of a crawl space, so there wasn’t a cool lair to hang out in like some of my friends had. I will even miss the backyard, as minuscule as it is; it served its purpose when there was over a foot of snow and school was canceled.
The tough times pull at my heart as well – my room that became my solace whenever I was upset or wanted to be alone to read or play video games, the platform at the bottom of the stairs where I found my mom lying after she fell (that was the last time she ever tried going upstairs), and the nights spent alone sitting in the kitchen while she was in the nursing home and I was not working either of my two jobs.
I didn’t realize just how difficult this would be; for the past couple years, since selling the house became an actual possibility, I thought it would be exciting and a good idea to downsize and clean house of all these things that we don’t need. But now I am realizing that selling the house is the ultimate implication that mom has lost her independence. And that I am a grown up and need to make my own grown up life and home. And that’s devastating and scary as hell.
I mean she put so much work into keeping this house running even on her single-parent salary that eventually became monthly disability checks. And the nursing home will take every last cent of what she gets for the house. Not only that, but thinking about what to do with all of my and her belongings is super stressful. But let’s not go there; that’s a whole other can of worms.
Even though it may be another couple months or a year until the house is on the market, it’s unnerving thinking that this huge part of my life will be gone. And it will become someone else’s; maybe another kid will move in and grow up in my house and make their own memories like I did. Someone else’s birthday will be celebrated there every year. Maybe they’ll repaint my old room and closet like I did when I became a teenager. They’ll make it their own and it will change as they grow up.
Or maybe an older couple will move in and spend the remainder of their lives just sitting on the front porch, enjoying the breeze. Another family will be able to enjoy the beautiful tree in the front yard that blooms in the spring (although it seems to be gone within a couple days because it always ends up raining and then all the petals litter the ground).
Who knows? Either way, I know I have to let go and move on – I mean, I’m an adult right? I need to get on with life, not just live in the has-been moments. Although it is fun and comforting to reminisce sometimes, I can’t let myself grieve for the past. So here’s to looking forward to the future – moving on from this chapter, creating my own home with new memories, and enjoying every step of the way.