This weekend, we moved out of the home we have lived in for the last seven years. In the midst of moving trucks, packing, and cleaning, the end of our time there seemed quite rushed and unceremonious. Yet we returned for one last walk through after everything was gone, all of the furniture, toys, clothes, shoes, books, all of the tangible marks of our life there removed.
On our final visit, we all wandered through the house independently, saying little. My daughter picked up every remaining pink paper clip and rainbow loom rubber band from the floor. She stood in every room and waved good bye to the empty spaces.
My son expressed that he didn’t like seeing the house so empty, and was looking for an ipad or phone for distraction. And yet before we left, when my husband called for one final group hug, my son promptly ran to the oven timer to note down the time of our last group hug in that house.
I believe that the homes we live in, no matter what their four walls look like, contain the energy of those who live within the space. It was hard to say good bye. Not because we were attached to the four walls themselves, but because we were attached to the memories we created along the way. We are by no means a “perfect” family; we have had our mis-steps and arguments and tantrums, children and grown ups alike. But still, it was our imperfection that lived and breathed there.
A part of me wanted to not return for that final good bye. It felt too uncomfortable, and I wondered if it would make it harder on the kids. They were already excited about their new bedrooms and discovering its secret hide outs and cozy reading corners.
But perhaps more than protecting the kids, I was protecting myself. I didn’t want to feel the waves of sadness at how quickly seven years passes. At how soon our children grow up. At how we fast we age without our conscious awareness.
I didn’t want to feel all that moving on represented, the time that has passed and never returns, the bittersweet sting of change and transition.
And yet the psychiatrist in me knows that saying good bye is important. Having the opportunity to take note of one door closing, and another phase of life beginning. Allowing ourselves to feel all that we feel, with all of our ambivalence and excitement and loss and fear.
We could hide from that in the guise of busy-ness. That certainly feels easier sometimes. But in doing so, we deprive ourselves of the chance to mark important steps along our journey forward in life.
So today, and in the week ahead, I invite you to consider all the small and big ways in which we say good bye. Is there a way to take the time to make the good byes meaningful and important, in the midst of difficult emotions?