“Mom, we’re scared of your room. It’s okay when you are in there with us, but we don’t like being in there by ourselves.”
And there it is. The cold hard fact that something terrible happened in our house. At the end of October. At the end of the street. That’s right, Freddy. Rolling Green is the new Elm.
After years of watching them avoid an entire half of the house, darting through the door, closing open doors and setting my electricity bill ablaze light switch after light switch, my carefully guarded son and defensive daughter labeled the cloud that has hung quietly for years.
As his body lay in the room turning cold, a chilly fog descended on the house and in the moment that I found him I finally understood those words and turns of phrase we all throw so carelessly. The life sucked out of the room. The room felt different. There was something in the air. Deathly silence.
In the hours and days and weeks after, we stood firm in our resolve to return to the house where all of our memories were stored. The corners they crawled around. The wine splatters on the ceiling from Christmas Eve past. The pool we soaked in summer after summer. The hallways laughter once floated down. Memories and tears gathered like dead leaves, littering our days with anger and grief. And as days became weeks and weeks became months and months became years, the chilly winter that had descended began to thaw and it became our home again.
The house that I never wanted was no longer his, and we grew content to start again.
But the house we once clung to and now want to leave is not so easily the dearly departed. Losing half an household income, a year of unemployment and my unwilling widow status have fallen on deaf mortgage company ears, and legalities, a mother’s loyalty and my unbending pride make the house an unpleasant reality rather than the distant memory we desire. I resent the house simply because I cannot leave it. We fear it because of what the emptiness and dark nights bring to light.
But years of loneliness and aloneness have taught me much about resilience and change. The walls that once suffocated me are now, simply, walls ready for a fresh coat of paint to hide the blemishes of the past and let the light into the house at the end of the street.