Thirteen years ago Parker and I set out to purchase our first house. We were 24 years old and living in our first apartment together. I had some money left to me from my mom and it was fairly easy to get a mortgage back then.
We started looking about 30 miles west of Boston, but there was little in our price range. We knew that we could handle a fixer upper and looked forward to getting our hands dirty. Because the market was crazy at this point, we ended up looking in Worcester. It was much farther west than we wanted, but it was what we could afford.
I remember pulling into the driveway of 72 for the first time. We got out of the car and walked through the jungle of the back yard and I knew. This was it. It was exactly what we wanted. We went inside and took in the wood paneling, shag carpeting and green metal cabinets. Looking back, I’m overwhelmed at the amount of work we took on with this house. But over the last 13 years we made her ours.
At first it was Parker, myself and our crazy pack of cats and dogs. We celebrated Christmas’, birthdays and hosted numerous parties. Parker proposed to me in that house after we lived there for a year and a half. We had our wedding rehearsal on our front lawn. It’s where we began our marriage and started planning our future.
We found out we were expecting our first child within those walls. I had so much fun setting up a nursery and spent a year painting a barnyard mural. Teriffied as all new parents are, we brought home a little baby girl. She got to spend 8 years growing up in that house and playing in that yard. She learned to walk on the hardwood floors in our living room and spent numerous Halloween’s trick or treating around our neighborhood.
Once you have kids is when you really begin to meet your neighbors. We were lucky to have some kids move in over the years and be able to form a close knit community. Some of these people have become our closest friends.
Because our daughter needed a sibling, we had a son. Suddenly we were busting at the seams, but in a good way. There was so much laughter and love. Such noise and chaos that can only come from 2 kids, 2 dogs and a cat. Life was good.
When my son died right outside that very house, I thought that our world was over. I could not imagine how we could move forward. At the hospital, my sister asked me if we wanted to go home or would we rather stay at a hotel. I paused for a moment, but decided I wanted to be home and sleep in my own bed. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was making a very monumental decision.
That aside, our community came together to take care of us in numerous ways. These amazing people that were our neighbors took care of us and held our hands during the hardest time in our lives. We were so lucky to have this support system. These people took care of us and showed us so much love. It helped us to be able to grieve.
Over the course of the next year I struggled with our home, the driveway mostly. I refused to step foot where the accident had happened. I closed the door to my son’s room and didn’t go near it for a good 3 months. His toys were still all over the house and the baby gates were a constant reminder of what was missing. It was awful. But it was still my home.
Even after all that had happened, it was still my safe place, my bubble if you will. After the accident, I was teriffied of going out, being anywhere where ‘something’ could happen. I mean if an accident can occur right outside your home, then surely much worse can happen out and about. I felt safest in that house.
Over time, I slowly put my son’s stuff away. The baby gates disappeared. Toys went into his closed up room. We remodeled some of the house and these projects got me excited about the house again. They gave me something to focus on, something to change.
We began to heal in that house. It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly over time. Like a catepillar in a cocoon working towards becoming something beautiful. Let me tell you, it was a lot of work and a lot of therapy.
A year after the accident we decided we were ready to try again. We were willing to give the Universe another shot and give our hearts again. I miscarried in that house. I think I was more angry than sad at that point. I was so pissed that we could lose something more. At that point I wasn’t scared, I was damn determined that we get another shot at love.
We brought Fletcher home to that house nearly 9 months later. It was hard having another boy, especially one that looked so much like his brother. We struggled. I had no choice but to accept the driveway as it was because this little boy had to be carried to and from the house in his carseat safely.
Eventually we made the decision to move Fletcher into what was his brothers room. It sucked at first. I rocked him in the same chair where I last sat with his brother, looking at an almost identical face. I added Fletch’s name to the wall, right below his brothers. It was as if they were sharing a room. In some ways that was true as all of Benny’s clothes were still in the dresser, same as the day he died.
We raised another boy in that house for 2 years. We held our breath until he was older than his brother had been when he passed. I panicked over every sickness and accident and would google myself into a frenzy. We spent 15 months of sleepless nights with that little guy as he settled in. Those walls somehow held me together.
When we found out we were expecting again, we knew our days in this house were numbered. We were crammed in there and had eeked out every available square foot of living space. We hemmed and hawed. We loved this house, but it was time to go.
I was ok with the idea as an abstract. Maybe it wouldn’t sell. Then we’d be stuck and have to make it work. Well it sold, and rather quickly.
Then I was excited. We were moving! A new house to decorate! A fresh start. Then it was ‘we’re moving forward?’, ‘moving on?’. Nope. Just ‘moving.’
Just moving. Leaving our home behind. Taking our kids out of their house. Walking away from where we raised and lost our son. I can honestly say that I haven’t cried this much since my son died. And this was our decision!
I’ve had a few months to really think about this. I am heartbroken to leave my house. It is the longest I have ever lived anywhere and there are so many memories and so much of my life tied up into this one house. Not one room has been left untouched, we have spent countless hours making that house into exactly what we wanted. Our home. I am absolutely devastated. Just because we decided to leave doesn’t make this any easier.
This house is where Benny lived. It’s where he took his first steps, said his first words. It’s where he’s real to me, where he exists. This is so hard to walk away from.
It’s also where he died. It’s the last place that I held him. It’s where our lives completely changed. It’s taken me a very long time, but in this process of moving I’ve come to realize that I finally made my peace with it. I feel ready to move because I’m ok with this house.
I cannot describe how freeing that feels to be able to say this. I never imagined a time when I could feel this way about this house, I didn’t think it was possible. Maybe it’s because we’ve redone the house since Benny’s passing, or because I’ve brought other babies home here. Whatever it is, I’m so glad that I chose to come home the night of the accident. It allowed me (forced me) to deal with the reality of everything. It was a massive part ofy grieving process. It’s just taken me a long time to figure that out.
Thirteen years almost to the day that we purchased our home we said good bye. Someone else is living there now. God, it pains me to say that. I’m broken up even as I write this.
We said good bye to our house and our community and it is killing me. I have brokenheartedly had to say good bye to some of the most loving people we have ever met. Sure we’ll still see them, but I will miss being outside and waving and chatting with everyone. It’s just not the same. So much of what made our house a home were the people that lived around us and supported us.
We won’t go far, but it is so much further out of my comfort zone. My bubble is gone for now. It’s time to make a new one.