Monday, September 10, 2012


by Kate Collins

As the 2nd anniversary of my husband’s passing draws nearer, I’m coming to the end of another chapter of my life. I’m moving.

It was a well-considered move that my children have been encouraging me to make for a year. I’d searched for the perfect place for awhile but had never found anything that felt right. Then one day, on a whim, I stopped by a model home in a new development near my present abode. It’s a condominium home, meaning I won’t have to worry about lawn maintenance, outside house maintenance, or snow removal. It has all the modern amenities, even the granite countertop I’ve always wanted. It even has an office for me.

The ranch-style house, less than half the size of my present home, was sunlit and open yet still cozy, its size a definite change from the huge, rambling two story I’ve lived in for the past 15 years. I liked it so much I went back four times, until, encouraged by family and friends who went to see it with me, I gulped hard and took the plunge. Since last March, I’ve watched excitedly as the house took shape. It was a project for me to work on and make my own. Now it’s almost done. My closing will be in just a few weeks.

But I find myself dreading the move. It terrifies me to think of leaving my beautiful, familiar home. How do I detach myself from this place where I’ve spent my entire married life, the house my husband and I remodeled slowly into our dream “castle”?  

I’m so emotionally attached to this house that I can still see my beloved Greek standing in the kitchen making his famous Greek salad that he prepared every evening while I cooked dinner. I can still see him sitting in one of our matching easy chairs in front of the TV, waiting for me to join him. I can catch a glimpse of him doing yardwork outside my office window. I can almost hear the back door slam as it would when he came home from work. I can even catch the slight scent of his Drakkar Noir in the bathroom over his sink and remember how he’d rub it into his hands and pat it on his face every morning.

Once I leave this house, I’ll have only the memories of those things. Will that be enough or will I ache for the places where these things actually happened? Will I start to forget? Will I long for my old house so much I can’t enjoy the new?

I found out Friday that my closing date scheduled for next week has been delayed indefinitely because the local utilities company hasn’t been out to run electrical wiring to the house. I breathed a sigh of relief. A reprieve.

It won’t last forever, I know. Nothing does, as I’ve so painfully learned. The day will come when I have to transition to this new home, to this new period in my life.  Psychologically, I won’t be able to pretend I’m half of a couple any longer. It will be me, just me, starting again.

If you have any advice, I'd love to hear it.


kissablysweet1 said...

You don't detach yourself. You simply learn to love the new place just as much. Did you stop loving your first child when you had the second? NO! You will drive past the old house. You'll think of it. Eventually you will be able to let a new family make memories there and not feel like they are intruding on yours. You'll smile when you think of the wonderful times they'll have there.
Your NEW place will be a chance for you to come to terms with the new chapter you are about to write. And you are WRONG! Somethings last forever! His love for you. The wonderful memories of your children in that old house will be with you. You are always half of a couple. He's just traveling with the stars while he waits for you.
This move will be terrific on many levels. I'm sure your husband would agree.

Leann Sweeney said...

As you know, I have just moved from the house I lived in for 22 years. I needed to move away from Houston--it was causing more health problems than I could deal with. But my husband and I designed and built the home we had lived in. Now we are in a dreary, sad old rental. I don't miss Texas, but I miss my home. I felt safe there. The decision has been made. There is no going back. I struggle, but I know it will get better. You are lucky you are moving right into a place you can make your own right away. Think of it that way. But will you miss your old place. You will. I don't cry every day now--and that's only taken about a month. Not very long when you think about it. Good luck, friend! You can do this and it is the right thing.

Annette said...

I lost my place in life. And one thing I think I would have liked would be pictures - of views from inside the house that I used to take for granted every day. You might try taking a picture out the window of your office, a picture of the kitchen where you worked so well together. Granted, they will not have your husband in the picture, but the "place" will be there for you to see and recall the joy. Just a thought.

Brittney said...

My dad and his wife just tore down my childhood home. It was bittersweet as this was the home I grew up in, but they moved an older farm house to the site and are remodeling their dream home. My son will never remember where his mom grew up but he will make his own memories in his grandpa's new home. The one thing I will do is write down details I remember of the house and the feeling of coming home I always felt stepping it the house. Put that into a Flower shop book and your memories will live on with Abby

CindyD said...

Have you started packing? If not, start now! It will take a lot longer than you think. You will need time to decide what to take with you and how to dispose of the rest.

Barbara Daley said...

I cried when I read your post. Sept 8th was the 12th anniversary of my husband's passing and my heart hurts for you. The future is always a blank slate...I think it's better that way. My husband and I had sold our home of 30 years just 4 years before he died. It was painful to leave that house but it was a good move. We loved our new condo while never forgetting our first home. Two years after he passed my daughter and her husband and I bought a two family. I love my new home, I love being able to have the grandchildren around me all the time. But at the time time of the move I struggled with the I leave this place where his memory is all around me? Obviously I said yes. And I have found all my memories have sort of melded together...I forget sometimes that he never lived with me in this new home because it feels he is always with me. I forget he never saw my son's new house because it feels as if he's driven with me on the long ride. You won't forget either...once they grab hold of your heart they're there to stay. I'm sorry this has been so long and rambling. Your post really spoke to me. I wish you wonderful new...and old...memories in your new home.

Cindy said...

When we sold my grandparents house in 2002, I took photos of every room before the furniture was removed. So I can still look at the picture and think of them sitting in their chairs. The last visit was horrible. I just walked through the house sobbing. I felt like I was losing my grandparents again. But I've gotten better, can look at the photos and think of all the wonderful memories we had in that house. That was the most emotional I have even been leaving a house. I kept a bottle of my grandmothers perfume and my grandfathers aftershave. Every once in a while I take a whiff, close my eyes and they are with me again. I will never forget what their hugs felt like. Sounds odd but true.You will make new memories in your beautiful new home but you'll always cherish the old ones too. I wish you much happiness in your new home! <3

Linda McDonald said...

I agree with some of the other responses about taking photos. I'd take photos before the packing starts. And maybe write down a list of memories regarding your house. I made a list one time regarding my best friend and all the crazy things we did when we were little...1,2,3....listing and I'm so glad I did. I'd do the same for the house. Love and hugs to you Kate.

Kate Collins said...

I really appreciate all your comments. They help tremendously. I've already taken quite a few pictures but now I think I'll add some more. Thank you to all who responded. I'd love to hear of more experiences. They bolster my confidence.

Dru said...

Take it one day at a time. The memories will never go away..they'll make you smile when you're sitting in your new home. Bring photos... another smile will crease your face.

Katherine said...

I lost my dearest big brother John on 24th September 2010, to cancer, after a while I had to go, to his home, I felt him there making us a cup of tea, telling me about his plans for his beautiful garden, hearing his laugher.
Saying goodbye to his home was like saying goodbye to him all over again, and just as painful.
But now when I think of him, I see him there, sitting in his garden on a sunny day, so wherever I am or wherever I may go, John will always be there, enjoying his garden, smiling and I smile back.
Your husband will always be with you, no matter where, you may wander, and one day you will remember, and smile back too.
Enjoy your new home, your new adventure

Julie said...

I am also facing a possible move now two years after my husband's passing. I plan on still making room for him. Still hanging some things up in the closet, putting his books the way he liked them arranged, just things to remind me of him.

I still cherish the pictures of the first place we shared.

I hope you find many new memories in your new home and treasure all the wonderful memories you had in your former home.

Kristen said...

We supposedly had a buyer for our house of ten years this summer. We spent all summer preparing for the move...which fell apart at the 13th hour. They had trouble with financing and it went past the contract date. Eventually it all blew up. I was left with a house that was 2/3 packed. Our ability to build smaller house across from my husband's family here in Ohio and a second smaller one near my parents in NH fizzled. Instead of complete agony, there was an undercurrent of relief. This was the house we built, were my kids grew into young adults. I don't think I was ready to let go. It is now the worst time of the year to sell and I miss the items I chose not to unpack (in hopes of another, more stable buyer), but I am grateful for this extra time. I encourage you to savor yours too! I took tons of pics when we listed our house because I was unhappy with our realtor's pictures and I am so glad I did. Ever corner is documented, even the bathrooms, lol! It helps even now to look at them and remember how the loft looked when it was still my library before the books got packed. I know I will still cry. I have accepted that. I do already sometimes just thanking about it. But that just means we care and that's a good thing! Sending hugs and comfort! You are not alone in your feelings!

Kristen Steele :)

Kristen said...

Please forgive the typos! A sleepless night gave me the chance to respond, but bleary eyes and typing on even an oversized cell phone is tricky at best.I tried to catch then all before submitting but as I reread after posting I see a missing a and I assure you I do know the difference between were and where, and ever/every! The teacher in me is not impressed! I hope this will give you an extra chuckle!

ev said...

I've always looked at any changes like this as a new adventure. Even the difficult times. New adventures bring new memories, but they don't erase the old ones.