I used to say that I would sell my place in the mountains, move to the Caribbean and open a beach bar when this time came around. It sounded like a great idea...five years ago...and perhaps it still sounds good to me on some level, but now things have changed.
I look at my home and remember...
My late husband and I walking through it with the realtor, nervous about the idea of buying our first home and talking about all the what-ifs.
I hear the plans we made for the addition that remains in the back of my mind--never having been done.
I see us sitting at a table signing all the paperwork and remember leaving and looking at each other with both excitement and fear. Our first house! Our first mortgage! Oh, the dreams we had in that moment. I see it as clear as day. My young handsome husband laughing as we drove away from the office with keys in our hands.
I remember the kids sledding with their dad down our hill--he'd built them a ramp and I was a wimp about it, overly concerned about them breaking their necks rather than jumping in to join the fun.
Oh, and all the laughter we had in the summers around the fire pit outside when my little girl, probably about five years old, strumming on her guitar and seranding us. She used to always put on shows.
I remember my husband taking his last breath here--the coroner arriving after the police. The chaos. The spring thunderstorm--the rain had poured and poured that night. I see me hugging his body for the last time before the coroner took him away. I held on so tight, knowing I would never touch him again. I promised him that I would make sure that the kids never forgot him, that I would be the keeper of memories, the storyteller extraordinaire.
And I have kept my promise.
I hear the sound of the kids having parties here--the laughter of high-pitched, giddy children's laughter that always makes the world seem better in some way.
I see my kids learning to drive in our driveway and me trying to hide my fear.
I see my dog, Taz, the first puppy I ever had of my own being put down on our deck because his arthritis had spread up his spine. The kids cried and I stroked his hair as he passed on, telling him what a good buddy he'd been and how we'd never forget him.
And we never have.
I hear myself sobbing alone on the bedroom floor, broken, terrified, uncertain about how I would ever rebuild my life as I watched the bank account drain and my own health deteriorate under the stress of being an only parent who'd quit her corporate job years ago to take care of the kids and now had been deemed unhireable and...undesirable. I see myself gripping the carpet, tears flowing unheeded down my face, body convulsing with despair, the darkness so overwhelming I could only surrender to it.
I see my daughter dressed in her high school graduation gown, nervous and beautiful, and remember how damn proud I was of her then...and now.
I hear the laughter generated from all the games we played here--cards, Wii, board games, fetch with the dogs.
This house is my home. Within these walls, we've lived a life. Our life. Good, bad, terrifying, and real. My life.
Yes, this year will be a time of great changes. Come August, both kids will be in college and I'll be here alone with my new dogs--both puppies. Some tell me to go, move to a condo, find that beach bar and start over...but I don't know if that's what I want anymore.
I've changed...and I'm just now learning who this new me is.
Peace to you!
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.