Three years ago today we bought this house, so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for those early dreaming, optimistic days, as Spring warms and blooms around me.
Here’s something I wrote a few weeks ago for my writers workshop. It seems appropriate today.
A Place to Call Home
Spring was pretty well established by the time we rolled back into town that April. The jonquils were blooming and nodding in the breeze, and the cottonwoods were misted with the pale green of new leaves. But move-in day winter came back with a bitter, damp bite. It snowed so much, one of the movers slipped on the truck’s loading ramp and fell, hitting his head with a sickening thump. Should I have seen this as an omen? Maybe, but I didn’t.
When we first toured this house, I had no idea it was a peek into our future. We were perfectly content living elsewhere and had only walked down to see it to sate our curiosity. At first glance it seemed a bit dark and overdone. I politely admired all the Old-World touches, but I was privately thinking how much I would prefer more light—lighter stain on the knotty alder cabinets and woodwork, less ornate light fixtures, anything other than the dark slate tile. But this house was available when we needed one, and after living in France, suddenly Old World felt like home, so here we are.
Or rather, here I am. David’s been gone since Christmas.
Toward the end of our year of adventure—six months in France and then a slow stroll down the eastern seaboard waiting out the Colorado winter—we bought, not quite sight unseen, but almost, this place I now call home. We had so many plans. Soft summer evenings with wine flowing, while steaks sizzled on the grill, the mouth-watering aroma drawing neighbors down to say hello and maybe score an impromptu invitation. Lingering candlelit dinners where we would talk deep into the night. And laughter. Always laughter.
That first morning we directed the moving team here and there, placing objects we hadn’t seen in over a year. The day took on a festive air, as we rediscovered our belongings from out of long-term storage, cavalierly giving away items that didn’t seem to fit in our new space. As one scowling young man lugged box after box of books down to our new library, others scrambled to be on hand for the next offering. They wanted what we didn’t. It was perfect. Turns out we were right to give it all away. The only thing I miss, the only one I miss, is David.
But we had that summer, and most of the next, and in between, a refulgent fall filled with the pungent tang of wood fires, and the shush and crackle of fallen leaves. And then a gleaming Christmas lit by twinkle lights and cranberry scented candles. As winter gave way to spring and spring to summer, we sipped our wine and made our plans and talked about how happy we were in our new home, and all the while the cancer was settling into its new home, stretching out, getting comfortable, in David.
That day we had no idea the road ahead of us, but there was sun as well as sorrow, and an overflowing of love, tenderness and gratitude. This workshop for cancer patients and their caregivers has been rich, helping all of us to pour our pain, our fears, our grief into words on a page, and in so doing, let a bit of it out of our hearts and minds, lift some weight off our shoulders.
Mostly, when I think of the past, I’m trying to focus on the time we had together, David and I, and the joy we shared, rather than the pain of separation, and sometimes I’m even successful, for slightly longer stretches at a time these days. Spring helps, certainly, and it is wonderful to be here where I am known and neighbors watch out for me.
Best of all, I know I am still remembered in some of your thoughts and prayers. I feel the profound comfort of the spirit of God, and even the surprising but very welcome comfort of David himself, because in many inexplicable ways, David is still very much here.