I spent this weekend moving my mom out of my parent’s house into an apartment.
I’m not going to get into all of the details, but after 32 years of marriage my dad filed for divorce.
The past month has been a whirlwind of emotion…anger, sadness, frustration, more anger, more sadness.
Our family will never be the same.
The visions I had of the future with my immediate family will never be realized. All of the Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters and Birthdays from now on will be completely different from how they have always been and from how I dreamed they might be.
In some ways that’s a good thing. We’ve spent more holidays than I’d like to admit grieving what could have been because dysfunction took over. I tend to only remember the happy holidays though, and for that I’m thankful.
For the most part, my parent’s house was a haven. It was a cozy, cheerful home away from home. Only an hour and a half from the busy city we live in, their house was almost like a cottage for us. Removed from the hustle and bustle of our daily grind, it was so peaceful. Sitting on ten acres of rolling hills.
Scrumptious smells always wafting from the kitchen. Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Herb Alpert playing on the stereo. Cold beer sweating on the coffee table. Sweet sister sleeping on the giant sectional. Little brother playing the guitar. Mom serving everyone.
Even though I’ve moved more than 25 times in my 31 years, this house still managed to feel like home. I loved wandering around, gazing at all of the familiar knick knacks. Wondering at photos from the past, laughing about junk that was still sitting, unused, on shelves in the basement.
Saturday I drove to that house for the last time. The tires of my car crunched the gravel driveway once more. Petey (the dog) wasn’t there to run out and greet us because he’s too busy being doted on by his new owner (a dog-loving woman who is spoiling him daily at the assisted living center).
I opened the front door and instead of being greeted by sweet smells from the kitchen, I faced stacks of boxes and rolled up rugs.
All of the knick knacks had been packed away. There was no music playing on the stereo.
Everything was different.
I probably should have moved through the rooms saying goodbye, but I couldn’t. I think the reality of what was happening was just too much for me to really let it in. Instead, I stoically formulated a plan for the next day.
What time we would pick up the U-Haul, what order we’d load it up, how we would fit everything in, how to direct furniture once we got to the apartment.
Emotion was set aside for efficiency. I slipped into my role as the responsible one. You see, we all play roles in our families. I’m the one who gets things done. The one who always comes through. Who can handle anything.
Slipping into that uniform was far less daunting than grieving the loss. The loss of a home. The loss of a father.
So, I put my big girl panties on and dealt with it. I ran the moving process like a sergeant. I’d like to think that I was using my skills to be a blessing, but I think the truth might be that it was easier to hide behind my mask of strength than deal with the pain of exactly what was happening.
At the end of the day, mom was fully moved into her new place. Turns out it’s really nice and a perfect fit for her. She’s turning the page and entering a new chapter of life. One that I believe will be full of more joy than sadness and more peace than pain.
God’s got his eye out for her and the future is bright.
Our family will get through this and come out on top.
We’ll spend Thanksgivings, Christmases, Easters and Birthdays in her cheerful new apartment. Delicious smells will stream from the kitchen, familiar tunes will play on the stereo, stories will be told, games will be played and memories will be created.
The road ahead is one full of hope.