I have trouble with firsts and lasts. Something in me always recognizes the beginning and ending, however inconsequential, and stirs my sentimentality.
...This is the first time I have stepped foot onto my college campus as a student...My sweater is irreversibly stained; I will never wear this sweater again...This is the first (and last) time I will ever eat green bean casserole...My parents are selling my childhood home; I will never again step foot in my old bedroom...
That last one is fresh. My parents sold the house today. It is cause for much celebration. They won't have to heat the house during the long winter months ahead. My dad won't have to drive there through snow and ice every few days to make sure no one has stripped the place of copper or vandalized the interior. They can finally close a chapter in their lives that climaxed with my dad's illness. They don't have to sleep in the first-floor living room anymore. My mom doesn't have to help my dad carefully pad down the rickety staircase to the basement shower ever again. They don't have to worry about something happening without neighbors near enough to run to for help.
And as much happiness as I feel for them, as much relief for their safety that the move brings to my mind, my heart cannot help but ache for the loss of our family home, filled with memories, both good and bad, but mostly good.
Husband and I went back to take pictures of the inside of the house one final time Saturday. I really didn't want him to go, so I could have an embarrassing, ugly cry alone, but he insisted, and I am glad that he did. My mom had taken the hidden key with her a few days prior, and he is the only person that could have entered the correct combination into the realtor's lock, gaining us entry. I took some final pictures inside, and we walked through one last time, without a camera. I savored the sound of the creaky stairs. While laying in my bed, I could always tell which parent was ascending, just by the rhythm of their footsteps. I breathed deeply the basement, which still smells vaguely of the pet beds where our long-gone dogs, Nellie and Sallie, spent the nights. I touched the textured, floral wallpaper in my parents' bedroom. And I stood in my room and remembered playing with Barbie dolls on the floor, dressing up for dances, talking on the phone with best friends, crying over heartbreaks, and singing myself to sleep.
We returned to the house for the last time yesterday evening so I could take my final exterior shots. I traipsed through the snow covered ground in inappropriate shoes trying to capture all that I feared my memory would lose. I was so glad that my dad's shed was unlocked so that I could walk in one last time and breath the scent that I have never experienced anywhere else, a combination of oil and dirt, the smell of a family that makes their living from the earth. As Husband and I drove away, in spite of my tears, I felt a warm, small sense of peace. A new family will grow to love the house, filling it up appropriately with three children. Both adults are teachers, just like my Grandma and Grandpa were. And even though it is an ending, it is a beginning, too, for that family, and for mine.