Monday, March 25, 2013

Returning to an empty house

My mom sitting in her dining room January 7, 2012 Her 85th birthday
I headed to Eastern Pennsylvania for a writers' conference this past weekend, stopping at my mom's house for the night before driving the final 77 miles to Allentown. I returned to the house on Saturday night. For those who are new to the blog, I guess I should fill you in on why this is significant. My mother died suddenly in January and, of course, I'm still reeling. She lived 240 miles from me, so I didn't spend nearly as much time with her as I wanted/should have. Regrets haunt me now, as I wonder why I didn't take more time to make this trip over the last few years. I was busy. I was constantly busy. Busyness, my friends, is a curse.

I dreaded this trip. I was sick to my stomach with that awful feeling of dread throughout the week. Tears threatened to undo me time and time again. I simply did not want to return to this place I called home for the past 55+ years. It wasn't the same.

On Saturday night, after meeting relatives for dinner on the way back to the house from the conference, my husband dropped me off and ran out to to the store. I entered the house alone, turned up the heat and looked around. Something, other than my mother's absence, was amiss and I was determined to remedy it. First, I went down to the basement, rummaged through the boxes my sister packed up for an upcoming garage sale, and retrieved the CD player and CDs. Setting it up in the living room, I turned on a Henry Mancini CD and listened as music filled the house. Then I lit candles. Lots of them. Candles on the mantle, on the dining room table, around the living room. I even lit 7 or 8 candles in the fireplace. Music. Warmth. Light. I pulled ceramic and wooden Easter eggs out of drawers and placed them around.

Finally, I opened a bottle of red wine, poured myself a glass, and sat down, gazing into the fireplace, absorbing the experience of the house... the experience of my home. All around me were lessons from my mother. And in that moment, I once again felt her embrace.


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