I’ve said goodbye now to every room in my house. I’ve stood in the center of each and washed myself in the memories. Like an old wedding dress, I took the joys and the sorrows out of the box, looked them over, felt them, held them close, then locked them away.

The Thanksgiving that my grandparents, despite feeling so ill, forced themselves to come and celebrate with us. That year, I’d shopped for hours for the perfect linens to go with my grandmother’s china that she had gifted me the month before. 

The door, so carefully marked with the heights of all my children, their best friends, our foster sons, is painted over now, even the very dark spot where my oldest took a Sharpie to her ex-boyfriends name.

The kitchen island where Big Brother sat, refusing to eat, trying to out-will me. The island where I baked cookies with my children, had deep discussions over endless glasses of wine with my husband, screamed across at my errant teenage daughter, kneaded thousands of loaves of bread.

The bedroom I shared with my husband, where I hid myself to cry when the strain of simply trying to live this life well became too much, and where my husband and I took shelter in each other, and maybe went to bed angry a few times.

My children’s rooms, where all the promise of a million dreams slumbered safely under clean sheets, and where they stormed off to in anger at my unfairness. Where they shared secrets with friends and kept their treasures in tiny boxes under their beds.

The backyard, site of so many many parties and gatherings of all the  people in our life that we love. An oasis in this suburban bubble, home of my garden and thousands of little birdie friends. The backyard where the “best damned pork sandwich” ever came to be created. Where maybe a little skinny-dipping happened in the late heat of a summer night.

As much as I’ve always felt that this place is not for me, I do honor it as the keeper of so many things. Desires, dreams, heartbreak, joy, grace, blessings, miracles. These walls sheltered lives lived fully, to the brink and back, sometimes bursting at the seams. This roof covered seven years worth of nights, and eight lives, innumerable pets. This door shut out the world outside, keeping my family safe and whole. The windows let in light, even when the darkness sometimes lurked in corners.

So thank you, House. You’ve done your job well and beautifully. You’ve served this family faithfully and with few breakdowns. (Except that August when we had houseguests and the AC went out, but we will just let bygones be bygones, if you promise not to mention the time I got angry and took a hammer to the coffee table.) May you bless the next occupants with as many simple joys as we’ve come to know inside these walls over the years, may you continue to be a place that people call Home.