When my first husband and I separated, Christian was 17 years old, and he took it pretty hard. For the first few days, he stayed with his dad, but that didn’t work out very well. I was temporarily staying with Mom and Dad, so he came over to bunk with us. The first night we sat up late talking through our grief and fear. At one point he asked where his home would be. I don’t think I really understood what he was feeling until today.
Jim and Jo Lynn, my brother and sister-in-law, had a garage sale today to dispose as many of Mom and Dad’s worldly possessions as possible. Whatever is not sold will be donated to charity, and all that will be left will be the few things we each chose as keepsakes. I didn’t think it would matter a lot to me. I got rid of some of their things along with a lot of mine and David’s when we moved to Florida, and I gave away a truckload of our combined material excess when we left Florida.
During all the changes, I felt the usual discomforts that come with life changes, but I didn’t feel the deep, empty melancholy I feel today. When we moved to Florida, we brought as much of Mom and Dad’s furniture as possible. They had an “in-law” suite on one side of the house that consisted of a living area, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms, and it was furnished with their things. Last year when they moved into assisted living, we were limited by space, but we furnished their little apartment with familiar things including most of Mom’s teapots and a lot of their pictures and other decorative pieces.
I left Mom and Dad’s home when I was 19 years old, but today’s sale makes that break final. The little house they lived in before they moved in with David and me wasn’t “home” because I never lived there. Their half of the house in Florida was attached to but not really a part of my home, and their apartment in the assisted living facility wasn’t home either. But all three were places where my Mom and Dad lived, and they represented home to me.
Now they’re both gone, and all that’s left are the pieces of wood and fabric they sat and slept on, the knick knacks they collected and dusted, the pictures they admired. Those things hold no life of their own, but they hold a lot of memories. I still have the memories, but the rest of it will soon be gone.
Except for the two weeks after my marriage broke up, I’ve lived in a home of my own since I was 19. But there was always someplace where I could go, someplace where Mom and Dad were, someplace where I could remember what it was like to be a child, to be taken care of, to turn the responsibility over to someone else. I guess that’s what Christian was wondering, where he would go to get that feeling when he needed it. I don’t know if he found it in the homes I’ve made since then. Probably not since his whole family wasn’t there. Now I understand the emptiness he must have felt. Now I feel it, too.