Our house will be auctioned off next month.
I received notice from the powers that be. In my imagination, I picture a throng of people standing in the front yard while a silver-tongued auctioneer stands at a pulpit on the front steps and does his thing. I know that's not how it really works, but that's how I picture it.
As I write this, I have tears streaming down my cheeks, but I'm having trouble figuring out what they're for. Are they tears of sadness? Certainly. They say home is where the heart is, and my heart resided in that little house for many years. My heart and the hearts of my kids. It was the first and only home that 3 of them knew. It was where they took their first steps, ate their first meals, got ready for their first days of school. It was home.
Are my tears those of anger? Absolutely. I am still angry about a lot of what has transpired over the past few years. I'm mad that I have to face this on my own. I'm extremely pissed that I was forced into this situation by circumstances that were way beyond my control. I was left high and dry, and I just didn't have the resources to make things work. But, what's done is done. Like Kenny Rogers, I knew when to fold 'em. Maybe I waited a little bit too long to bow out of the game, but you can't fault me for fighting til the bitter end. And fight I did.
Maybe my tears are a response to remorse over what could have been. My marriage was a happy one while we lived in that house, at least for a little bit. Big Daddy and I had such big plans and hopes for that rundown little abode. Could I have done anything to save the marriage? Save our hopes and dreams? I don't know. I'll never know. That house has watched me weep over a doomed marriage twice, first my parent's, and then mine. Maybe the tears I am shedding are those of relief, that no one else in my family will have to console a sobbing child under that ramshackle roof.
And maybe, just maybe, these are tears of happiness. There is joy mixed into this emotional porridge. The past and all of the hurt are left in that house. I have been given a rare and special opportunity to start from scratch. And as terrifying as it is, it's also liberating and strengthening. I feel like a butterfly clawing my way out of a cocoon. To use what is quite possibly the lamest analogy available for this situation, I am so totally a phoenix rising up from the ashes.
Life isn't suddenly easy. It's not like Ed McMahon showed up on my doorstep with a big old cardboard check and a map to easy street. I am still struggling, still trying to pick up the jagged broken pieces of my life without cutting myself. Still watching my kids work through their own private grief.
When we talk about the "old house", I am warmed by the happy recollections they still have. They own all of the sepia-toned childhood memories that I had hoped they would. They talk about impromptu car washes in the driveway, with the Cozy Coupe, the Radio Flyer and the trikes all lined up. They talk about the big backyard with the hand-me-down trampoline, and the swingset that had the one swing where if you pumped just hard enough, your toes would touch the reaching branches of the apple tree. "Push me harder, Mommy!!!" they'd cry out, their tiny feet pointed with all of their might towards that one beckoning branch. I am grateful that we have these shared memories. Maybe these are tears of gratitude for that.
When I walk through that dark, empty place now, I try to block out the awfulness. The sounds of muffled crying, the horrible soundbites of a husband and wife lashing out at each other. The sounds of kids trying to express how much it hurt to be part of a crumbling family.
Instead I listen closely, carefully, and I can hear the good things. I hear the squeals of delight on Christmas morning. I hear the cackling of my good old hens as we ogle Pampered Chef gadgets and watch a Jim Gaffigan DVD for the very first time. I hear a young man and a young woman declare their love for each other and toast to the future.
I hear good things as I close this door. And those good things will comfort me.