I vividly remember the last time I stepped foot in the space I once called home…That beautiful house on Maybank Court in Gahanna that had held so much love and warmth, quickly evolved into four lonely walls and a roof the night my husband died. I made the decision only an hour after I walked out of the emergency room without him, that I would never live there without him.
And I never did.
There is no greater pain then walking into the bedroom you once shared with your love, to smell them, feel them, and see their clothes on the floor, only to remember over and over again that they will never enter that room again with you. They will never wear those clothes or spray that cologne on in the morning before work…
And then the pain only intensifies as you walk down the hallway and see pictures of your wedding day on the walls…or when you brought your one and only child into the world together…and you wish with every ounce of your being that you could just jump into that picture and be apart of that moment in time, frozen forever in the shape of a 4×6 frame.
I will never forget the agony of sitting alone in our empty master bedroom after everything was moved out of the house, the silence only a reminder of the laughter and memories my husband and I had once shared…I will never forget sitting there, looking around our room and remembering the excitement we felt when we first moved in…or the sounds of our newborn son’s cries in the middle of the night as we frantically raced around the house trying to figure out what to do…remembering our weekly cookouts on the deck, blaring The Lumineers or Jackson Browne as we enjoyed sitting outside.
I remember sitting there, cross legged in the middle of our bedroom floor, crying my eyes out and begging Nate to help me understand how this had happened. Begging him to ease the pain or turn back time, neither of which I knew he could do. And then I remember standing up, wiping my eyes and locking the front door as I walked outside for the last time…allowing the numbness to take over as I pulled out of that driveway for the last time.
I often associate grief with the ocean. One minute you are standing knee deep on the shore line as the waves calmly roll in…And while you are able to feel the temptation of the tide eager to pull you out into the unknown, your feet remain firmly planted in the sand, rocking with the motion. And then when you least expect it, a larger wave crashes ashore knocking you off your feet. You struggle to regain your footing as wave after smaller wave consume you, and before you know it, you are barely able to keep your head above water.
16 months in, I live amongst the smaller waves…But boy, do those larger waves knock me on my ass still.
The other day I was searching for something in the unfinished side of my parents basement where a quarter of my house is packed away (along with a large storage unit). I ran across the boxes I have so tried to avoid…Boxes of his clothes. Boxes of his items that I haven’t allowed myself to think about…cologne…tools…I do keep a set of his unwashed clothes from our last trip together safely tucked away in a drawer in my room for those moments in which I need to feel even a smidge of the peace his presence once gave me, but seeing those boxes I haven’t touched since the day I moved them out, piled up in a corner in the spare basement was a brutal reminder of that life we once lived. I live through reminders daily, but damn…seeing his belongings that I have yet to go through reminded me of that last, solemn day in our house. The house I said goodbye to a year ago this month.
I miss our house.
But more importantly, I miss our home.
My parents have been nothing but welcoming and accommodating to Ian and I. And while I am eternally grateful to have been able to move in with them as I finish school, I long for that home that I built with Nate for almost 7 years…The comfort of being surrounded by that life that we built. The personal touch we put in every room and on every wall.
I will always miss that house on Maybank because of all of the memories we shared in it. But I am realizing that that’s not what made it a home…
Nate made it a home. With Ian and I.
And the reason I couldn’t live there any longer is because without him, it no longer held that comfort. That hope. That house stopped being our home the moment Nate took his last breath. Belongings became just things. Furniture was just furniture. And even though that’s all packed away for the time being, I realize that I will still always be at home in a sense, alongside Ian and our pup.
Widowhood is a lot like being homesick all the time for a life you once had and for the person you shared that life with. A part of me will always feel homesick for Nate. But I realize I need to keep my focus on this home I have with Ian by continuing to work towards the life I want for us. Even though it terrifies me to be doing it without Nate, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will give our son a house again. We will make our own place a home again. And even though he’s gone from this earth, Nate will still be a part of it because he is irrevocably a part of us…
Irrevocably a part of our home.