Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Good Goodbye

Yesterday I cried.

Crying is a good thing. A great thing, even. A cleanser of emotions and a releaser of stored up grief. Not to mention a legitimate and legal reason to eat chocolate after the tears have passed.

Yesterday, we spent several hours in Smithfield, cleaning and packing up some remaining oddments at our old house. I felt a little strange when we first walked back into the empty, echo filled rooms but I didn't really feeling teary. Not then.

I worked, and Steve worked, and Sarah worked. We scrubbed the tubs and toilets, vacuumed, polished the wood floors, mopped the linoleum, cleaned the baseboards and just generally neatened stuff up.

Sarah and I made a Walmart run to purchase a few necessities for the house like towel racks and a shower curtain. As we were shopping, we joked that if we just stayed in Walmart long enough, Steve would have all the cleaning done by the time we returned.

Sigh. It didn't work. There was still plenty to be done when we returned.

By the time the three of us had finished up the last little bit of stuff, it was almost 7 pm and we still had to get dinner and drive three hours home. I was exhausted beyond words. And filled to the brim with memories. And filled up to the edges of my heart with thoughts of the five years of Smith life that had been lived within those walls.

My last job in the house was to wipe down the kitchen counters and then polish up the kitchen sink and all the fixtures. The more I polished and scrubbed, the more the memories surrounded me. So many meals served in that kitchen, so much joyous laughter in the walls around the table. It suddenly seemed impossible to me that the final goodbye had come and I would never again live in that beloved place.

Steve was still upstairs finishing up some tasks and Sarah was waiting with Snowy out in the van.

I went outside into the cool, cleansing air, stared out at the deserted yard inhabited soley by memories and I cried. And cried. And cried.

I remembered the traveling musicians and missionaries to Africa we'd had over to eat. I thought about over 150 people from church we'd entertained at various functions over the years.

I remembered the family meals that would somehow end up with someone grabbing the dictionary to settle a word argument.

I looked at memory pictures like these.

I remembered church board dinners, and birthday parties, and Nathan's High School graduation party. I looked back at all the times that we (and our friends) had played badminton in the back yard.

I remembered how my kids had swung on the swing set and I thought happily about the way Snowy had been the reigning Canine King of his own fenced-in back yard for five years.

A lot of memories. Memories of the place where Nathan and Sarah both grew into the wondrous people they are right now. Those walls hold the chapters of their childhood that we can never again recapture.

I looked at the basketball hoop near the curb and thought of all the times Nathan had gone out there late at night to blow off steam and shoot a few hoops. I remembered the times I had had gone out there to play with him and how he had said such encouraging things to me ("Mom, you are a natural at this") while I flailed and fumbled and created comic relief for the bemused birds and squirrels.

I looked at the street where Sarah, full of triumph and victory, had finally learned how to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time; I remembered the victorious expression that shone on her face when she did it. She had conquered cancer. She had conquered bike riding. She is a conquerer beyond words, beyond a doubt.

I looked at another street and remembered the hundreds of walks Steve and I had taken around the neighborhood, sometimes burdened down and overwhelmed by the challenges of ministry, sometimes giggling hysterically over some funny story.

I remembered Thanksgiving Dinners and Christmas tree decorating, and the way Nathan's baritone voice rang through the house one particular night when he was singing "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" while doing the dishes.

I remembered standing at the top of the stairs and listening to Steve and Sarah's voices downstairs as they ate breakfast together and the indescribably contented feeling the sound of their laughter brought to my heart.

I remembered Snowy (AKA our second doorbell) keeping watching on the neighborhood from the fourth stair, a place which he had scientifically selected because he could see out the front windows from there.

I remembered shouts of laughter and tears of deepest sorrow. I remembered the joyous hellos we said when we arrived at Smithfield and I contemplated the fact that the book of goodbyes had been written.

It was a good day.

A good cry.

A good good-bye.

13 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

lesley said...

I feel very sad for you. It's so hard to move from a place chock full of memories. Hugs sent down the east coast to you.

Shannon said...

We have moved twice since we have been married. The first house was hard, because it was our first house together, but no kids yet. The second house was hard, because that was the one we had brought our new baby home too, his first room (that one also had a pool that was kinda hard to leave, smile). So we are now on the third house and the memories start so fast, I really have gotten over the last two. We live in the same city as the other two, so I occasionaly drive by them. I went crazy landscaping the first one as I had way too much time on my hands. So as I drive by that one I make little comments to myself, oh they are trimming the shrub all wrong, oh they moved that bush, it will over grow that area in a couple years. But then I think how happy I am in our current house and try to remember the bad parts of each house...that helps!! ;)

Anonymous said...

I wish I could fly on down to Manteo to give you a big hug! I hope you will accept this cyber hug...
Crying is a good thing. I know why you are crying. Your Smithfiled home is filled with lots of memories. Cherish those memories as you move on to Manteo and make new memories in you new home.

Love to all the Smiths,
Boise, ID

Anonymous said...

Been there done that...


Connie F-G

MaryH said...

You needed those tears. You can never let go of something so close to your heart - especially a woman's heart- as a home without shedding some tears of good-bye. That house knows, it was loved and will always be cherished in your thoughts and heart - houses have lives of their own - a new family will make it a home. Your house in Manteo is waiting for you to make it a home again. Your tears have lead you to a place where that is now possible. Tears and chocolate are so cleansing. So, indulge when you need - you deserve it.

Love Snowy's position on the stairs - and I remember so many previous posts that contained the comments and pictures of this post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Tears can be so cleansing, and I sense that you needed those tears to wash the windows of your soul clean. Clarity.. to be able to remember and document that part of your life, and then to begin recording fresh new memories in Manteo. I'm just so excited to see how God is using you (well, maybe not so much the massive muscles...); I know that you will make a difference in the lives of the people at your new home. This was a wonderful way to record the things that have made you smile and given you comfort over the past 5 years; I'm glad you were able to write it down!

Beverly said...

I remember when Sarah learned to ride a bike! I cheered from far away! Thanks for sharing so much...such memorable stories.

We've lived here for 18 years...my boys were babies when we moved into this house. I would have tears too.

Now you're off to make some great memories in Manteo!

Anonymous said...

My Wondering... and knowing Prayer

I see sadness.
I see joy.
Sometimes I cry.
Sometimes I don't.
When I cry, is it God within me crying
For the sorrows and celebrations in His world?

God is with me... always!
God is good... always!

Becky, as I was reading your Good Goodbye, I thought I'd like to share a prayer I wrote this year.
You certainly have left your Smithfield house (not calling it home now) in tiptop shape.

mrs pam

Anonymous said...

OK....I have had a hard time understanding why after 5 years it has been difficult to let go.. We've lived in our home for 22 years.. However, after reading your history, I now understand this has been your only home. It must be tough. Hang in there....you are moving to what we call "gods country". A house is just a house....you will be living in a beautiful, peaceful paradise. I know your children will come to call it home. My wish for you is that you will be able to spend many years in Manteo. Wonderful people, beautiful paradise.....what more can we wish for!!!

Anonymous said...

I also cried when we were cleaning out our first home after moving out. It was our first home together, both children were born when we lived there and we made many memories in the 10 years we lived there. I was there alone cleaning and the new owners wanted to stop by and take some measurements. I started talking about all the memories made there, and I just lost it. They didn't think I was crazy, but I sure felt it. You are going to soon be making more memories in your new home and sometimes you will miss something about the old house, but a home is where your family is.

Raleigh, NC

PS. You are welcome to stay with us if you have Duke appts. in the future.

Sue G said...

And a great update. The best news is that God has blessed you so that you are able to take both the memories and the people with you to the new house. A lot of people don't get that, especially when there have been medical crises in the midst.

Yes, God has blessed you indeed.

And now He will bless you with new stories, new friends, new dinners, new laughter, and new fodder for new updates.

Because Patrick Swayze's character in "Ghost" was right...the love comes with you...to heaven...

...and to a new home. Your family's new home.

Jan R. said...

I can't imagine leaving the walls of my home ...
I wish you much happiness in your new adventures and your new chapters... there are many more to be written.

randybethmo said...

Gosh, I can't say that I have been a mover in my life (only had and apartment and one house since marrying). Mom and Dad did most of that while we were too little to really remember. I loved the pictures and your thoughts - but Mom always told us about new Chapters in Life (I am way more than sure you can relate!) and think of all the NEW memories and chapters you will be making in Manteo. You have/are and will continue to be in our prayers!