There is a treadmill that sits in the corner of our basement that is used less frequently these days. It was here, as I ran along to the music from my ear buds and stared out the tiny block window at the growing sunlight, where Heather snuck up on me with her hands cupped around a small strip of paper with two small lines. It was in the corner of this dusty basement where I first learned that I was the father to my second child.
One floor above is the living room where we sometimes have a family dance party, a fun and strategic deception with the hopes of wearing out a little boy before bedtime. A room that I could look at the pictures and poems in nearly any direction—at bookshelves, tables and walls—and feel our middle child with us; despite missing her fancy dance moves that I am sure would rival her brother’s.
Around the corner, in the dining room, stands the hutch that protects our first daughter’s pregnancy chalkboard. The one that was held weekly next to a growing belly along with growing numbers—now, forever stuck on 33 weeks.
Walking through the kitchen, I can see the candle holder stamped with the two little feet that glow each night from the flame that dances inside as we gather for family dinner.
On the wall in the family room is Lydia’s name—painted, framed and gifted to us—sitting above the small patch of carpet where a little boy eagerly puts on his shoes to go outside, where a little girl shuffles across as she cries out for her mother, and where two parents collapsed nearly two years ago, sitting numbly and staring out into the grey sky of a world that no longer made sense.
Above the fireplace mantle, her name carved into stone, her body burned to ash.
Upstairs, a back corner window where a little boy stretches on tip-toes to say goodnight to his sister, her garden glowing underneath the twinkling stars that hang high in the clear night sky. The opposite corner, more windows that glow orange and purple from the rising sun, where I wake up and whisper good morning to the beautiful girl I wish I could hold.
And yet somehow, in six weeks’ time, I must say goodbye to these rooms forever as we pack up and move to another home. Typically, this is a busy and exciting time, but I am struggling with leaving these walls, windows and corners. I am having a hard time of letting go of the place where I feel so connected, wrestling with the tension of leaving the place where so many memories of both the before and after were created, in leaving behind the key to the house that watched us become a family of five, in walking away from the only home my second child will ever live in.
Slowly, I am allowing the excitement to grow, reminding myself of the practicalities that come with more space and a convenient location. Allowing myself to daydream of a new places to hang pictures and plant flowers, and of the opportunities of new memories as we turn a house into a home. I am convincing myself that past memories are uniquely and forever mine, even without the physical space to stand within them. And also that any future memories will include all three of our children, knowing that wherever we live, Lydia will always be with us.
Have you moved from the place you lived at the time of your loss(es)? Was it a good riddance or full of melancholy?