The house is now empty.
44 years of life removed in little over 5 hours.
It hasn’t been this exposed since 1971, when my parents bought it to be their family home.
We had a good send off on Monday night by having dinner with Paul and Shelly, but now we have entered the phase between history and future.
As I now walk around the familiar rooms, it seems like another place. From another time. From another life with only the beautiful gardens – that remain intact – reminding me this was a place where so many happy memories were created and cherished.
Soon everything will be renovated. The house will be given an injection of love and life from both the builders we have asked to undertake the project and the family we will be welcoming into the home.
And while that is wonderful and exciting, I can’t help be reminded of why this is all happening.
It’s only 3 weeks since my beloved Mum died and yet the World seems to have moved on at a frantic pace … only applying the brakes when the impossible-to-ignore takes place.
Collecting her ashes.
And even I am being swept along with the progression … consumed by the expectations and needs of the law, the time I have available to do everything and the desire I have to honour my Mum in the best way possible.
But every now and then, moments arrive where I am smashed in the face with the pain and sadness of her loss.
Of course things like her death, her funeral and collecting her ashes are natural spotlights of grief but it’s the other things that really bring home how much you miss her and how much she loved you.
Today, as we walked around the empty house, there were two rooms that reiterated all the love my Mum had for me.
Her bedroom looked tired. Old. In need of some love and care. Sure it has just had new heating which meant it was in need of some decoration and sure, a empty room always reveals the bumps and bruises of the years lived within, but this room felt almost desolate – with only the indentations where my Mum’s bed had once sat … where my Mum had once lay – to remind me it was once one of the most important rooms in my World.
Then I walked into my bedroom.
Sure she had just had it decorated in preparation for her grandsons visit. But even with everything removed, it looked clean. Fresh. Full of life.
The contrast between hers and mine could not have been more distinct and in that moment I saw how my wonderful Mum put me before her.
That is both a beautiful gift and incredibly sad.
Beautiful: because it means she loved me without limit. Sad: because she deserved – and I always wanted to give her – the best.
Today I brought her ashes home.
My beloved Mum now in a relatively small, tubular container.
I’ve been hugging it for ages. I can’t believe it’s her and yet at the same time it’s quietly comforting. Being able to put my arms around her. Being able to kiss it. Being able to just hold it close to me.
I miss her. I miss her so much.
I must admit there is a part of me who still thinks someone will come out soon and tell me it’s all a joke. A mean, horrible joke, but a joke all the same. But with each phase of death, I become more and more aware it’s not a joke, it’s real and the pain hits me all over again.
Of course there is a tragic irony that this is all happening on April Fools Day.
Not just because this is a day where silly jokes are supposed to happen, but it is a year to the day that we found out we were going to have Otis.
A year where so much has changed and happened.
A year where every good and bad thing that could happen, seems to have happened.
But back to the house.
With nothing now in it, we are now staying in a hotel. But I’m still coming in and driving past all the time. Part of that is because I am well aware I won’t be able to pop in or stay here any more. Part of that is because of what it means and represents to me.
This is the house where love lived.
This is the house where happiness resided.
This is the house where the memories and values that guide me were born.
In just 21 days, my World has turned upside down and while I am letting another family start their journey within these 4 beautiful walls, I am glad this house is still mine – still my families – and I’ve ensured that’s the case by writing this in the garage.