Losing My Dream House

So many lessons this year, last week, today, yesterday, this minute, last minute…..centered around what HOME means (things I want to write about, but I need to “set this up” to get the right context)….I still remember writing this “chapter” when I was writing the story of Marq’s sickness…of how our life got turned upside down….of where we had been and where we were going……I wrote this as we were packing up our things…..in the weeks and days before we had to leave our dream house…..the place we thought would always be “HOME”

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starting over is hard and it hurts

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“I am sitting in my closet in my bedroom right now. I have been looking for a place to go for the next few days to finish up the writing of this story, to be alone, to be at peace. I thought about going to the mountains to my sister’s cabin, or going to a hotel, or to my parent’s house…and maybe I still will. But I woke up at dawn and thought about all of the times over the last few years that I have awakened at all hours of the night, or even retreated at all hours of the day to this closet…to this 3 foot by 3 foot little space of carpet, and knelt down to pray and sob and plead and ponder. So, I am here now, and it feels like the perfect space to finish this story.

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 There’s a window in here, a 12-paned wooden window that lets the light through on the north side of the house, where it is never too sunny, but always a soft light glows through. It is a dormer so there always seems to be a bird or two perched on the roof next to the window, and just outside of it are a few of the massive trees that made me fall in love with this house in the first place.

Dream House

 I don’t know how I feel yet about saying goodbye to this house. We had so many dreams when we moved here and we talked so much about how someday we would be rocking our grandchildren on this front porch, or how we would be standing under the enormous elm tree, covered with white lights on the back porch, waving excitedly, then running to meet our children and our grandchildren when they would come to visit for Christmas. So many dreams, so many plans. And so much work to be done to renovate.

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big dreams give us our wings

 A few weeks before Marq’s accident, we had just finished clearing out the big space in the back yard where the little rolling hills swoop around and make sort of a bowl, Marq had flattened the big sunken circular area with the tractor and called his buddy to bring in the cement truck, and they poured an enormous, beautiful patio and stamped it and dyed it to look like a beautiful rock floor. We then went and picked out a bunch of huge boulders, as tall as our children, and had a big tractor surround the patio with them. On either side, just outside the house where the hill swooped down into the patio and then across the other side of it, we put huge flat rocks, about three feet wide, up the hill in stair steps. Marq and I went and found these rocks, hauled them home, dug out the stair steps and then built them together. It was July and it was so hot, the rocks where heavy and rough and even though we had leather work gloves on, and we were using the little tractor mostly to lift them, our arms were scratched until they were bloody. We stayed outside all day, and didn’t finish the stairs until dark. I still remember taking our gloves off, holding hands while the crickets chirped and looking over our work in the starlight, him saying “you are one strong woman.”

Trees Pasture Barn Horses

 The rock patio came 3 years after we had bought this place. The summers before, we had cleared the field and planted grass, finally, after 2 years of dirt. Marq hauled in topsoil that he brought from the local fields, to stack enormous piles with the tractor all over the property until it looked like we had gophers the size of elephants. After he perfectly smoothed a whole acre, with a thick layer of perfect soil on all of it…and made curvy cement borders around the entire thing…and spent one whole summer spraying the dirt inside of it for weeds, and again for weeds, and again for weeds, until not one single weed was growing in the dirt, THEN he planted the grass. He had studied how to have the greenest, thickest grass, what kind of seed to buy and how to fertilize it. The end of the 2nd summer, when it was starting to cool, he planted it, and it grew in like it couldn’t wait to make it’s stunning debut. When our 3rd Spring came in this house, the grass was a legend already, people would actually drive by, then stop and ask him how he got it to look like that, and as always, he would share every detail. Our lawn to this day is a legend, when I tell people where I live, they often say “Oh, you mean the house with the big gorgeous lawn?”

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Sunset from the front porch

 Well, then I wanted a big patio in the dropped part of our massive back yard in the middle of the bowl, and like always, he did everything he could to make my dreams come true. I wanted a big waterfall to cascade down the back side of the patio so that you could see it from the house, and hear it when you were walking up to all of the wedding receptions, and BBQs and family reunions that would happen there. So, Marq made a huge hill of dirt right where I wanted it, and our next project would be the waterfall.

 Then the accident happened. And today, if you walked down those rock steps that we built with so much promise, everything is exactly as we left it 3 years ago. The dirt hill is still there asking if it will ever be a waterfall. The big flat boulders have never been used to hold beautiful trays of food and drinks for the big family get-togethers that were supposed to happen there. The big old trees that surround it are still waiting to have garden lanterns strung across them.

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 And now we are saying goodbye to that football field grass, to that breathtaking view when you stand on the side porch with the tunnel between the trees that ends with the red barn in the background. We are saying goodbye to the rope swing in the pasture, to the fort in the back corner of the field. We are saying goodbye to the stump in the side yard where the walnut tree died. We are saying goodbye to the building between the house and the barn that used to hold Chatterbox but is now Marq’s wood and metal shop. We are saying goodbye to all of the flower beds that we so carefully planned and filled with potting soil, but never with flowers.

 And we are heading home again.

Peace comes from being open to life working out perfectly....but differently than you planned

 That is what is strange about all of this, how it feels disconcertingly peaceful, like it is exactly the way it is supposed to be. Life is funny with all of it’s plans and twists and turns. You can plan and plan and plan and I don’t know very many plans that ever turn out close to how they were made, and that is ok.

 It is devastating to lose a home, especially when you’ve put so much of your life and your heart and your sweat into it…especially when you did all of it so that someday the plans you were making while you were building would come to pass.

 But as I think about it, the building of it was such a journey too. And, we are leaving this home together still intact, our love is strong and our family is strong and we have plans again…but now we have the wisdom to understand that nobody knows how much of those plans will ever be a part of our future. We are leaving this place so much better than we found it…and we are leaving better than we were when we came here 7 years ago. Now we are finding home again. And I know that we are headed home because we are all headed there together, and I guess that’s all that home has to be.”

There is no shame in starting over

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  1. Thank you !!! xoxoxo

  2. I lost my home 1/1/13. That is approximately the date we drove off in 2 vehicles, with 2 cats and 2 dogs, headed into the great unknown because my husband was dying. We originally purchased the house 4/13/01, Good Friday that year, Friday the 13th. It was a fixer upper. Oh, improvements were made but illness made it slow. Two years we lived without a working kitchen. We did add a nice shed and a greenhouse. But the gardens and landscaping never happened. In the end, boards were falling off the fence and the dogs were escaping. Neighbors secretly nailed the boards back up. In the end, after 12 years, the cancer was too much and we had to leave. I am states away now. My husband is dead. I am starting over. I have chosen not to ever return to the house. I have a couple of really good, illness free, memories that I’ll keep.