Home is where the heart is. Right? Well my home has just been packed into 365 cubic feet of shipping cargo and 11 very large bags. And it’s hurting my heart.
A few weeks ago I wrote about ambush goodbyes – the intense experience of realising that I won’t see someone again. When those last moments catch me by surprise they momentarily break me open with raw emotion. This week it wasn’t a person that broke me. It was my whole house.
The reality that I wouldn’t be living in my house anymore hit me hard after the movers left on Monday. The nearest emotion I can use to identify how I felt by Tuesday evening is grief. There have been moments that are fractionally similar to the experience of seeing my grandparents die. When we visited their hospital beds, you’d want to drink them in, smell them, feel their soft skin and chat about something familiar one last time. In the same way this week I’ve been kind of indulging my loss of our home. I lingered longer than I needed to in the hallway. I took longer to eat my breakfast and watch the empty garden. I cuddled my children extra hard and as often as I could.
I continually saw ghosts of my happy memories floating around me. There’s the birthday party of 12 hot, happy toddlers screaming in our garden. There’s the table where we ate breakfast at everyday for 3 years. I can hear the echo of my inconsolable newborn in this room. I can feel the softness of a sleepy child’s cuddle when I look at that chair. I can smell something delicious wafting up the stairs as my husband enjoys cooking our favorite food in the kitchen he designed. And I feel safe as we let the day dissolve from us while we lounge in the room I designed and watch TV from the cupboards he built.
This week has reminded me how utterly critical a sense of home is to my soul. I’m lost without it. There’s an inherent conflict in me, since I’m also not content unless I’m exploring and learning in some way. It makes me wonder which of those desires is stronger – am I destined to always move on? I hope not. We’ve worked really hard to nurture our house into a home. As a result, I feel blissfully lucky every time I come home and shut its front door behind me. I love the sense of comfort and security I get from feeling truly at home. It creeps under my skin and allows me to truly be myself.
I don’t want to leave that behind. I don’t think I will. I’m confident I will be able to rebuild a sense of home in a new house. People have been saying all the right things to me all week. I know we will rebuild a home somewhere else. But it’s taking me a bit longer than I expected to get over the loss of the last one.
It took me 3 days to be able to say out loud, in front of the children, “I feel sad about leaving this house” without completely falling apart. Which is why I barely spoke about it while it was happening. It was such a raw and unexpected grief, there were times I found it almost unbearable. I couldn’t look people in the eye when I was thinking about leaving in case they cracked me open. I’ve felt on the edge of falling apart all week. I knew I wanted to write this post days ago but it’s only now that I feel strong enough to consider the experience and not cry uncontrollably.
I feel stronger now for a few reasons. As with grief, time heals some of the pain. But I’ve also come home to heal. I’m now in my childhood home. With my children. It’s helping a lot. I feel blissfully lucky, comfy and secure here.
I need this space to help me reset. I need my Mum to help me renew my energy. And I need my family to help me rebuild a sense of what home is, outside of that house, so I can take it with me in my heart when I pack our bags for one last time and get on that plane. In five more sleeps.