Many months ago, when we put our house on the market, it was our prayer that God would lead us to someone who would work with us to allow us to stay in our home until our new house was ready. We sort of stressed over when to pull the trigger and list it. Too soon and you run the risk of someone making an offer but wanting it right away. Too late and you run the risk of owning two houses for a little too long. But after several weeks an offer came for an amount we were happy with and the Buyer said we could stay until May 14.
Looking back, I think that was God’s way of telling us this was the offer to accept. We did and spent the next many months not worrying about selling our home. We were able to focus our attention on all those little final details of our new place. And most of all, we were able to just live in our old house – to not worry about a few dishes in the sink or the kitchen floor that should have been mopped 3 days ago. We could just relax and enjoy our house for those last few months.
And that is what we did. The kids sat at the kitchen table and watched the squirrels dashing about the yard, some of them running up on our deck and jumping from the deck rail to the nearby tree branches. I counted cardinals and blue jays as I stood at the kitchen sink and washed dishes. Though using just one bathroom upstairs for almost everyone in the family was not ideal, I tried to just be thankful for all the little feet I had to watch out for. We just lived.
And that was a precious gift.
With doing a slow move, I figured that meant at some point near the end we would just get sick of going slow and pack it all up and get it all out. Before then, I had plenty of time to organize the boxes and moving process well. We were able to move when it worked for our helpers to help us. There was no rush. There was no worrying about bad weather. It was a forgiving process. But on May 8, Brian told me we were moving the next day. And my heart was in a flutter. I was excited and nostalgic and happy and sad all at the same time.
I thought I would have a moment to stop and say goodbye – to walk through the rooms and pray a prayer of thanks for all that happened there – for the way we never lived a moment apart from God’s goodness and presence. But in the chaos of Friday, May 9, we quickly scrambled, packed up one last truckload and hauled it all away to our new place. And that was that.
I thought I had missed my chance to really say that last goodbye. That didn’t sit all that well in my heart.
For days I tried to reconcile myself to the fact that I would never go back there to that sweet house with the shaded yard on North Prairie Street. But it never really seemed to settle.
So Tuesday, the day before closing, I decided to make one last stop. I left the kids in the car and ran in for just a minute. I walked up the stairs where Brian had carried three tiny babies up into our house for the first time. I stood in the nursery where I had prayed and prayed as I waited for each of those babies to be born. I strolled through the master bedroom where there were years of heartache and then years of joy. I paused in the living room where we paced and rocked and swayed seemingly countless times. I ran my hands over the kitchen countertops where I had prepared countless meals for my family. I choked back a sob in Reagan’s big girl room – the walls still pale blue and the air smelling of her. I made my way through the play room where our kiddos spent so many hours playing together and becoming good friends. I remembered Christmases, birthdays, visits from family and friends. I remembered, too, our goodbyes to Tom and Angie before they left for their time abroad. There were hard times here. And there were good. So many good.
And just as I reached the landing and turned to take in that view that meant “coming home” for one last time, I cried. It was home.
I asked Reagan just before she left for school that Friday morning if she wanted to say goodbye to the house. She paused, looked around and said, “No, I know this place,” and walked calmly out to the door. Then that afternoon as we drove away she said, “I have a lot of good memories there.” And that sweet seven year old teaches me yet again that what we have is something we don’t have to let go of.