Home is where the heart is

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It was gray and misting as I drove to the house yesterday morning. The music was low, and Bug sat in the back seat quietly singing along
as I drove on, lost in years of thought.
I remember the first time he took me to the house. At the
time, his dad along with his dad’s new wife and step-daughter lived in it. He
held my hand and walked me through the house, pointing out pictures and
antiques, china and furniture he said would probably be his someday. He showed
me a secondary bedroom, where his mom once told him that this would be her
grand-daughter’s bedroom (which it came to pass that it was!). While he remained externally strong, I could see a hint
of pain as he led me into the master bedroom, where his mom had passed from
breast cancer less than a year before. My heart hurt for him, and my squeezing
of his hand led him to believe I was ‘creeped out’ by being in the room she had
passed away in, but I wasn’t. When you have already lost your own mother, you don’t
think about that anymore, and if you are like me, you feel the energy of their
souls left behind, and instead of creepy, you find that it is comforting.
Throughout our dating and early married life, going to the
house was a common occurrence. Holidays, barbeques hanging around the swimming
pool, a place for haven during a winter storm while pregnant and on bed-rest at
home when we lost power for days. It was almost natural that when they were
ready to move out, we were ready to buy the house. It is in a great
neighborhood, in an award winning school district, close to everything we
wanted, and best yet, cut his commute down by at least 45 minutes each way.
East Cobb sells itself, and he being a native East Cobb Snob, it was only
fitting for him to return ‘home’ with his family.

By the time I turned onto our old street, the memories were
playing like a reel of film in my head: A baby Bug determined to swim without
floaties, scaring us all when she defiantly jumped into the deep end of the
pool at less than two years of age and then the many years of swim lessons and swim team that followed; sitting on the pool deck with my
grandmother on Easter Sunday the year we decided to buy the house and we spent
that beautiful day at the ‘new place’ to tackle some outdoor maintenance. We picnicked
together that Easter, smiling and laughing and being thankful for the new
growth coming our way. We were excited to move to a house we already considered
‘home’, joyous at leaving our Towne
Lake home’s bad memories
of the death of our friend and my illnesses behind. It was an added blessing to
be so close to my grandmother, and the years of us living there and I being
less than 10 minutes from Nennie will always be something I am glad to have
had when I did.
Over the years, we made changes in the house as well as in
our life. My husband had some career changes, spending many years on the road
and only home for a day or two every week. The kids grew, one graduated high
school, one began to homeschool. We had parties and celebrations, joined clubs
and organizations and I was even blessed beyond measure to be named the East
Cobb Mother of the Year in 2008 by the East Cobber magazine. We made new friends; gained, and lost pets, and shared many a laugh, a smile, a tear, a meal.  We had great times
in that house, but we also had some rough times.
A new neighbor had said to me during move-in, ‘Everyone that lives
in that house gets divorced. Good luck!” I reminded her that my husband’s mother
lived here with her husband of 30 years before she passed away wherein the new
neighbor countered that that was indeed true, but she did die, the marriage did
end. Wow! Welcome to the neighborhood! Over the years, and especially for the
last year or so we lived there, I often thought back to this conversation and
wondered if there was some sort of prophetic warning intended, and that it took
this stranger to remind me to be ever vigilant. My marriage did suffer. Being
apart, dealing with serious issues of health, and each party becoming more independent
from the other due to lack of time together; they all contributed to weaken our
A house can’t destroy a marriage, but if there are fissures
in the bedrock of what your marriage is, a house can certainly help break it
down even more. Especially a big, expensive house, with a history that isn’t
necessarily all your own. My husband had memories of his own in that house,
some not so great.  And then of course
there is the whole ‘buying from family’ which is a level of stress that I was
not able to understand when I needed to. When it came down to it at a time when we were two steps from divorce,  when we
stepped away from all the external issues and focused on us, the first thing
that was decided to change was where we lived. I was holding onto a house for
sentimental reasons, he was holding on to it out of guilt. Those reasons do not
mesh and would continue to cause friction between us. So it was decided and we
As I walked through the empty house snapping a few pictures,
it no longer looked like our home. Lots of updating had ‘neutralized’ it,
making it ready for market, and so none of our imprint was left. I was first
apprehensive to say goodbye, because there was a part of my heart that felt
saying goodbye to this house would be saying goodbye to our mothers again,
whose presence had been by my side for the past 7 years without fail, and to my
grandmother, who I knew was there, too. I can often smell her when I bury my
nose into my daughter’s hair, and her spirit is often felt just behind me.  I had attached them to this house, when in
reality I know that they are attached to me.
They live in me, in my heart, in my memories. They are always with me and they
are not bound to these four walls.
As we closed up and prepared to leave, the tears were
flowing from both of us. As would happen in my life, the moment I crank up my
Jeep to leave, a sad country song is playing on the radio which causes me to
have to put the car back into park to finish the deep sobs that overcame me.
Bug and I held hands and cried together, both reminding ourselves that things
are fine and we are okay with new life adventures and memories. Deep down I
know that this is just a house. Just a house. Brick, mortar, sheet-rock. It is
the people inside that make it the home. What matters is that my people are still together to make a home together. And we will. We are family, we together are home. 
“Hold on, to me as we go 

As we roll down this unfamiliar road 

And although this wave is stringing us along 

Just know you’re not alone 

Cause I’m going to make this place your home…”

-Phillip Phillips, American Idol 2012 winner

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