I started this blog as a way to write about and “through” the grief of losing my grandmother. After living with her for five years and caring for her on an increasingly intense level the final year of her life, it took a toll on me in a way that was both physically and emotionally exhaustive. I tried to find the lessons hidden in everyday life to help me move on and gain that elusive word in grief: closure.
Since March 2, 2011, I’ve had a lot of moments that felt nearly like closure: the funeral, the cemetery, moving out of the house, getting married, finding a new job, missing her birthday for the first time, missing her at Thanksgiving and Christmas for the first time, finishing graduate school, the first anniversary of her passing, buying a house, moving some of her furniture into our home, getting a dog, the second round of birthdays and holidays without her there, the second anniversary of her death. Moments of grief still pound against my heart and mind, but they are fewer and father apart.
But one piece of closure still hadn’t occurred: her… their (Grammie & Papa’s) house. The 200-year old farm house on the small plot of land on Weymouth Road, that had remained unchanged for so many years. The house my grandfather had painstakingly, lovingly remolded, updated and cared for until the very day he died. Almond colored siding. Screened in front porch that was too cold in the winter but perfect for summer lounging. Three too tiny bedrooms that slept my father and aunt as children, and then me as a young adult. A basement that was just a tad bit terrifying in the dark. Well water that tinged everything it touched with a ruddy-hue – I cursed myself so many times for buying any white clothes in the five years I lived there. Two small barns that housed trinkets and treasures from generations before my time on earth even was whispered about. The pasture that Rusty and Chief lazed about all those years ago and the hillside where they rest in peace – along with the dozen house-pets that called Weymouth Road their home, too. The dining room and its table that groaned under the heavy weight of countless Easters, Thanksgivings, Christmases, New Years Eves and Days, Birthdays, and Just Becauses. The kitchen… oh that beautiful, cozy, cramped, marvelous kitchen! The kitchen that saw a hundred thousand made from scratch recipes… pies, chicken paprikash, tapioca pudding, secret Slovak Easter bread, nut rolls, super secret barbeque sauce, scrumptious breakfasts, chicken soup with matzo-balls… or alphabet noodles for 5-year old Sammie, a jar of treats on the counter for Fritzy next to a jar of 100-Grand and Butterfinger Treats for Papa, and a box of Godiva Chocolate hidden in the cupboard for Grammie. That kitchen with cheerful rooster wallpaper and red bricks. That kitchen with crappy well water and a fridge full of jugs from the Culligan spout at the local grocery store. That kitchen that always smelled savory scrumptious or seductively sweet the moment you entered in the the front door. That kitchen forever will be the most firm, strongest, most loving memories of my grandmother.
That house. That house was the last thing preventing me – and my family – from closure. That housed that held so many happy memories – and so many frustrating, sad, overwhelming defeating memories as well. That house where my grandmother lost her husband and her cognition within a 5-year span. That house that saw tumbles, spills, and accidents. That house that we purged through the insurmountable amount of STUFF weekend after weekend. That house that my father has been pouring his blood, sweat, and tears into the past 2.5 years… painting, fixing, tweaking, mowing, repairing, cleaning, and sleeping at once or twice a week. THAT house that has been both a beautiful memorial and a blasted burden.
That house got an offer this week.
And now comes the closure.
I don’t know how I’ll react the next time… the last time… I enter that house. I know it will be bittersweet. I’m sure I’ll cry tears that sting with relief and remorse. It will be strange sometime in the not-so-distant future to drive down Weymouth Road and see it under someone else’s care. Will they tear it down and just use the land (God, I hope not)? Will they completely gut it and make it unrecognizable (easier to swallow, but still freaks me out)? Will they respect the integrity and longevity and make it their own? Will they know and appreciate the incredible love that home has created? Will they understand the joy, pain, heartache, happiness, and sacrifice that happened under that roof? Will they be able to deal with that freaking nasty water? Will that kitchen and dining room even witness the glory of chicken paprikash ever again?
It’s not mine to keep – and I never wanted to keep it anyway. It was their home, not mine. I have my own home to make my own memories within and fill with my own sweet, savory smells – and I have much of Grammie’s trinkets and treasures to help me do so.
I’m sure that when they close on the house, it will be the final piece needed truly for closure – and while I know there are plenty of lessons left to learn, I’m not sure if this blog will be the right forum to recount those lessons anymore. I’ll never lock the door, but I’m finally ready to shut the door and open some new ones.
Thank you, dozen or so readers, for sharing in the journey of grief with me. It’s a road we all travel at some point and the most comforting thing is that we never travel alone.
Lesson Learned: Closure doesn’t always come when we want it to, but when we need it to arrive in our life.