This weekend I moved out of the home I have lived in for the past seven years.
Those walls hold some of the dearest and most painful memories of my adult life. It’s where I lived when one of my sons was born; it’s where I lived when my marriage died.
On my last night there, I crawled into bed early to give my body adequate rest for the big move. It seemed as if I would doze off immediately, but after a few minutes of lying there quietly I suddenly felt wide awake.
I felt a pressing need to sit in the dark and say good-bye. I listened to that need and decided to start right where I was--in my room.
I mentally roamed around the space and let myself connect with the many memories I made there.
Then I got out of bed and glided to a corner where an armchair sat--nestled in front of a large window where the light streams in every morning. I love how the wind blew the curtains up in a good morning dance as I sat there to write every day.
In another corner, I leaned against a wall--with my palms and forehead pressed against it--that used to support a makeshift changing table when my school-aged son was an infant. I remembered what it was like to change and dress my baby when his body was small enough to be held with one arm.
As I stood near my bed, I remembered the countless middle-of-the-night feedings that had taken place there--some filled with angst, and most filled with awe. I remembered the times my son laid belly laughing as I played peek-a-boo in a high-pitched sing-song-y voice that made my baby boy's eyes sing with delight.
The mood changed a bit as I paced the floors on a spot next to my bed where I had sprawled out on the ground late one night and cried tears of anguish and let my heart-blood spill all over the ground. I knelt down and let my fingers caress the spot--knowing that it was a sacred touch point in my journey toward healing.
I remember, I remember, I remember, I whispered as many times as my heart needed to say it and my ears needed to hear it.
I felt courage and strength as I remembered there that night. I held my open hands out in the darkness and I relished their emptiness. I felt unburdened and free—knowing I was not clinging to the past but was willing to embrace the present. I was aware of my heart and the pulsing rhythm of life, energy, peace and rest that was flowing through it.
Empty hands and a full heart, I said out loud with a smile.
Then I made my way downstairs.
I walked softly into the room of my sleeping child. I knelt down next to his bed and gently pressed my hand against his heart and whispered my fierce mama love into his ears.
I thought of the pencil marks we had made on the wall next to his closet--a cheap alternative to a growth chart--and how we'd excitedly recorded his growth and celebrated every inch he added to his stature.
As I tiptoed through the rest of the house, I found I didn't want or need to linger in all of its rooms. Some I simply passed through and mentally assented my good-bye.
My last stop was the family room. I gazed at all of the furniture in it that would soon grace other homes, and I felt relieved to be leaving it all behind. I looked forward to the next morning when I would take the remaining curtains down so the windows would be left uncovered--letting the light shine in full force. I prayed that the light would never again be covered in that place.
I remembered the blessing of health, joy, hospitality and peace I had written for that home two years ago after my brush with death--a blessing I had typed out, printed and camoflauged in a frame with 3D paper butterflies taped to it. I left that blessing in the air for whoever would live there after me. I prayed they would inhabit the blessing and not resist it.
I went back up to my bedroom and in the middle of the night under the soft glow of a bedside lamp, I wrote this journey down. I felt like I was standing in the middle of my own “promised land” of a restored heart.
I wrote, “Now I stand on a precipice, face to the wind, and I know it’s not me against The Force anymore. I’m not struggling to survive. I’m living, breathing, hoping, dreaming. I’m ready to say good-bye. I’m ready to move on. My tear-soaked pillow has been replaced with a new one. It’s time. Good Lord, it’s finally time.”
I’m clinging to that clarity and those words tonight, when I feel stripped of the familiar and my heart feels like it might bleed out.
Empty hands and a full heart. That’s what I’m praying for.
Empty hands and a full heart.