“Most people now are looking for ‘a better place,’ which means that a lot of them will end up in a worse one…There is no ‘better place’ than this, not in this world. And it is by the place we’ve got, and our love for it and our keeping of it, that this world is joined to Heaven.” Hannah Coulter
Lasts have always been important to me. I suppose firsts have too: first steps, first birthdays, first kisses; they’ve all been appropriately celebrated and documented. But lasts have their place in this life too. I remember senior year of high school when I became almost obsessive about commemorating. “This is our LAST PROM EVER!”, “this is our last lunch table together!!”, “this is our last time to walk down this hallway to our Spanish class together!!!” It always came after a brief catch of the breath and a before a collective sigh. It was important. It made those moments tangible and real and worthy of setting apart. I’ve always been about “moments” and somehow saying them aloud has made them all the more memorable.
Life has been filled with a lot of lasts lately.
Tonight we say goodbye to our first house. Our home. The house we grew our family in. The place where our love magnified and changed. The kitchen where we communed with family and friends. The place that was built for us and with our comforts in mind.
As we have waded through the daunting process of packing, our eyes and hands and hearts have been full of remembering. It has been a cathartic process, almost as if our house wants us to remember every last drop of life that was drunk here. Many memories have been evoked in the process: Handwritten letters from deceased grandparents, files and paperwork from my job that is no longer, thank you notes from my little students who are all grown up now, pictures that tell stories of a life long forgotten. Each one saved, possibly with the hope that someday (this day) we would come across them and have this very moment. A reminder that our lives have been very full here.
The walls have seen life for only 6.5 years, but oh the stories they could tell:
The outfits anxiously picked out for first days on the job, anniversary dates, baby dedications.
The number of tvs, sofas, rugs, tables, and lamps that have made their way in and out, up and down.
The rooms that were changed and then changed again to make room for the coming little ones.
The hallways that were paced in the wee hours, hoping for the babies to stop crying, the temperatures to go down, the contractions to subside.
The neighbors we met. The life we shared.
The meals we relished, the cookies we baked, the laundry we cycled.
The sounds of home: of the creak at the top of the stairs, the dishwasher after a pleasing meal, the tick of the clock as I write this.
The way we picked her out 7 years ago and dreamed of all these things. It was here they came true.
There was a lot of life that was lived here in 6.5 years. A lot of life. She was very good to us, we will miss her. Not for the way she looked but for the way we kept her. The loved that was shared here and the life that was lived.
It was in this place that our little, created life joined to Heaven. Becoming itself, a sacred place.
“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” Wendell Berry
Appropriately, trick-or-treating was city-wide moved to tonight due to inclement weather last. It will be a fitting way to go out: in a blaze of festivity, sugar, and a last goodbye to each of our neighbors.
Goodbye, dear house, you were as good as can be to us. We will treasure the memories we have of you and not soon forget the sacred times we shared among your walls,