When I was 9 years old my family and I moved into our new home that had just been built. I remember one of the first mornings I woke up in the house. Everything was so new. I couldn’t believe I was home. The blue carpeted room down the hall was mine. The big pine trees outside offered an immediate invitation to play and dream around. The kitchen cupboards my grandpa has lovingly built, soon filled with our dishes. It quickly became home. It quickly became a friend. Difficulties and joys unfolded there. Many of my dreams were born. It is where I understood family. My stories are held in the invisible spaces that forever occupy a well-loved home.
In what almost seems like a blink of an eye, 40 years have come and gone. My father has passed away and my mother has moved to assisted living. My sisters and I began the process of getting the house ready for sale. It was time to say goodbye to our old friend. Memories everywhere, how would it be possible to let go?
There is a line in a song by 38 Special, “Just hold on loosely, but don’t let go. If you cling too tightly, you’re gonna lose control.” This line resonates with me as I came to say my many goodbyes. I packed up my grandmother’s china and delivered to Goodwill. Keeping a few pieces for myself and imagining the delight of someone else enjoying it. New meals being served on it. Different conversations being told around the dinner table will hold it. Going through everything, I found many layers of myself and my family. I kept some treasures and then let the rest go. I couldn’t hold onto it all-the present was beckoning me away from the past. I “loosely” gathered parts of myself there to remember, but not so much that I couldn’t move forward.
As the house emptied and “for sale” sign went up, I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1. There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens. The season of my childhood family home has its time. The season of my life there has its time. With an impending “sold” sign waiting, I know that, in my mind’s eye, the front door will still always open for me. My memories and family moments are being held in my heart now. The season for the new memory makers are here. I am reminded that different is good. Different is growth and happiness takes new forms. New joy is coming for us all.
Saying goodbye to a family home is a defining moment. This era is done for us. My season now is with my own family. My activity is to help build and enjoy the moments and memories my curly hair boy will someday take with him. And to recognize the generous gifts I have been given now and live fully in the present with gratitude. There is a line in the Green Day song “The Time Of Your Life” that speaks to me about moving from one life into another—“It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right. I hope you had the time of your life.” Enjoy the season while you can. When it comes time to pick up and go a new direction, pack lightly so there is plenty of room for new joy.