Even though Rob only lived in our house for one year before he died, his fingerprints are all over it. We bought the house with the intention to work on it, and we started right away when we moved in. Two years later, I walk through the rooms and remember the walls we painted together over Christmas that first year. I chuckle as I look at the sconces beside our bed and remember Rob working hard to get them level with each other.
Over the last year, I’ve completed almost all of the major projects we planned to do together. If Rob walked in the door today, he’d say, “You’ve done a lot of work on this place!” Even so, when I open the breaker box, there is his handwriting labeling the circuits. It will stay there for years to come. However much work I’ve done alone, this house was never just mine; it was ours.
I’m preparing my house to sell in the coming weeks. It feels good to be unloading the responsibility of a big house and acreage, and I’m filled with hope (and a good dose of nervousness!) about the unknown future that lies ahead. The market is solid here in New England. I sense that my timing is divinely guided.
If all goes smoothly, by the end of the summer I’ll be living somewhere new. Some place Rob’s feet have never crossed the threshold. A place that will only have memories of Rob if I purposely bring them there. It’s a hard reality to accept. Even though I’m content about the decision to sell the house, it’s still bittersweet. This is another ending. Another reminder that my future will look very different than I thought it would. Another adventure, but also another goodbye.
We often think of adventures as exhilarating, and they are. But they also can be long, exhausting, scary and fraught with disaster. As the crew of the Dawn Treader (our most recent family read aloud) discovered, you don’t always know what you’re getting into when you sign up for adventures. You may just end up sailing to the End of the World. And regardless of what you meet on the voyage ahead, you’ll need to leave something behind.
To some, selling your house when you have no idea where you’ll go next isn’t adventurous. It’s foolhardy. To some, leaving traces of your loved one behind isn’t a good decision. It’s disrespectful or insensitive. But I am discovering that, if you know your Captain, you can make bittersweet choices. You can say goodbye and hello at the same time without contradiction. You can step forward into the unknown with hope, even as you grieve for what you’re leaving behind. In the words of the hymn writer, “I may not know the way I go, But oh, I know my Guide.“
I’ve taken pictures of the two breaker boxes in the house. More than the realtor’s beautiful pictures, these two tell the real story of this house I’m leaving behind. A story of a husband and a wife and four kids who hoped to set down roots, who planned for a happy future together. A story of adventure that was marked by joy and sorrow. A story that, though this chapter is ending, hasn’t finished yet.