I made a shift last week. A shift in the way I think and possibility in the way I feel.  I became a homeowner again.  I took the plunge and signed hundreds of white pages of bland, boring documents that will lock me down in debt for the next 30 years, if I so desire.  Before the signing of these documents, I located, scanned and emailed my life history over the past two years in order to qualify for the opportunity and privilege to sign these documents.  As a homeowner, I’m responsible for securing, and maintaining a safe physical environment while obeying the neighborhood rules and the county’s requirements.  To say the least, it’s quite a responsibility. A responsibility that I truly never saw transpiring in the last 5 years since I had to move from the home I shared with my late husband.

Our neighborhood

My former home was in a beautiful, older neighborhood in a community of original residents.   Most of these residents moved in the neighborhood because it was built in the ‘70’s by an African-American developer that sought decent houses for people “redlined” in the city.  So he built those wonderful large homes and it became a haven for professional African Americans.  We lucked out and found a house for sale and without hesitation, put a purchase offer on it, knowing that others would quickly discover this jewel of a house.  We spent 20 wonderful years in that neighborhood enjoying my spacious gardens and large trees.  A neighborhood without backyard fences,that encouraged me to cross over and chat with neighbors on either side of our lot.  We relished being a part of an established, settled neighborhood, with generations of kids growing up and providing the next generation of grandkids a safe place to ride and play.

Then tragically in 2015 I became a statistic.  One of those widows left struggling financially after my husband died suddenly.  Research says over 72% of widows are left challenged financially, with either less money or less financial skills to accurately handle the influx of financial decisions.  I was left with both situations, as my husband handled all the finances and I was left with 2/3 less monthly income.

Over the past 5 years, I have found “reluctant refuge” in a rented townhouse in a nice neighborhood not far from our other house.  A neighborhood with fences and people quickly entering their homes to avoid eye contact and discussions. A neighborhood with assigned parking spaces and homeowner association rules to help keep everyone civil.  While extremely thankful for being able to safely grieve in this townhouse, I so, so miss my former home.  The neighbors, the block parties, my wonderful, beautiful flowering gardens, all within the safety of others.

The transition

In September, my landlord suggested I look into purchasing the rented townhome. After all, I had lived peacefully in the past 5 years, tending to every possible leaks, hole and situation. Although I treated it like my own, no way did I allow myself the luxury of “being permanent” with residential roots.  In my mind, I am still a wounded, uprooted widow, living on the verge of what ever tragic event comes my way.  Truly, I didn’t even think I could qualify for a mortgage loan,  as I had lost so much stuff and my financial situation had changed.  But as God would have it- I did qualify and to my unbelief, I became another homeowner!  My Christmas gift to my daughter and me.  A place we can call home.  No packing, no moving, no resettling- just a mind shift to an owner.  Five years to the month we moved in as renters.

I know my husband would be proud to know I settled into a good neighborhood, intent to make new roots with nice neighbors in a safe home. I believe it will continue to be my refuge in a troubled world.  Sure I miss my old neighborhood, but that’s the past and I will always have those memories.  Now I’m going to make different memories, uphold past family transitions and be thankful we have an address to call our own.


Ajai Blue-Saunders is a servant leader and works for a nonprofit in the Richmond VA area. She is always seeking ways to encourage and serve others, even while experiencing the sudden death of her husband in 2015. Her work experience includes project development, herbalist, management, supervision and overseeing several companies and nonprofits.

Ajai has a heart for the disability community and serves on many local and national boards. She currently is solo parenting an artistic adult daughter with disabilitiies and together they are navigating this life with faith and love. She currently runs a widow's support group that meets monthly sponsored by a local funeral home which provides a safe place for widows to experience their grief journey with love and compassion.