Painting Over My Loss

Our house is a “model” home when we buy it in the spring of 1992.  We had both sold our homes where we had lived with our now deceased spouses, so we are excited to find a new home to start our life together.

The house has three bedrooms and when our kids Matt and Jess come with us to see it for the first time; they run upstairs into separate rooms and declare, “This is mine!”  Lucky for us, neither picks the master bedroom with adjoining bath.

Our four-and-a-half year old daughter must already know that the bigger closet is important down the road, or maybe it is just the light-colored, girlie wallpaper on the walls that determine her choice.

But over the course of time, wallpaper gets stripped, wall colors and curtains change and I now find myself, twenty-two years later, back on a ladder.  This time, I am moving my office from the basement into her room with a window that offers morning light.

Preparing for the job, I pack the remnants of my daughter’s belongings into plastic storage bins and memories fill my mind.  I envision Susie, her beloved stuffed dog propped up carefully against the pillows of her bed.

I remember the gerbils’ cage on the rectangular dresser and the desk where homework was done and I think of how many years have gone by.  I recall all the changes that have come to that room, the many changes taking place in our lives over the years, and I think how often living and loss collide.

There is a part of me that doesn’t want to move on, that doesn’t want to accept the fact that I am old enough to be an “empty-nester.”  If I think about it too much, I start crying knowing that our children will probably never live in our home again.

If there is one thing I want to teach my children; however, is that we need to be present, to embrace where we are in our journey of life.  So I am painting the room a soothing shade of green, the color of new growth and possibilities.

Despite my very real sense of loss, I also thank God for my children’s ability to move on, to create independent lives for themselves.  I am also very grateful for their continued desire to come home to visit!

I know some people who have kept their children’s rooms completely the same since they left home, unable to paint them or change them in any way.  How do you feel about that?

Has your empty nest elicited feelings of loss?  Don’t be shy, share your thoughts!

This entry was posted in Grief, Life's Losses, My story, Transitions, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Painting Over My Loss

  1. Pam Benson says:

    As always, I share my thoughts! I think it’s a parent’s job to encourage his or her children to have a life of their own and teach them to be self reliant. I didn’t cry when Andrew moved out – I rejoiced! I passed on a sense of adventure and a level of self awareness that propelled him out into the world. As the youngest in my family, my siblings were able to move across the country or to Europe, knowing I would be there to take care of my parents. I never wanted my son to miss out on great opportunities just because he was either too scared or unsure of himself to leave the nest, or because he felt a sense of obligation to “take care of me” (like I did for my parents). As for people who can’t move on – how sad that their identity is locked into being a parent. You are so much more! What an amazing time – how exciting to have the time and space for the “second act” of your life. With the kids gone, get a job, travel, start a hobby, write a book, or so much more.

  2. It’s not only as “empty-nester’s” that families go through those flashbacks of memories in a home. It happened to me every time we made a move due to relocation. After the moving company had loaded all of our belongings into the truck and our home was empty, I would walk through the house and stand in each room to recall all those fond memories, and some not so fond. It was sad to leave them behind, but I always knew there was a great adventure ahead of us that would bring more memories and friendships as well. As I go through the “empty-nest” stage I keep reminding myself that there are many more adventures ahead and I cannot wait to experience them! Enjoy your new office my friend 🙂

    • Greet Grief says:

      Reading your comments I thought of a blog post I did awhile ago entitled, No Place Like Home where I talked about the things you describe. It is so true how there are always good things and bad things about our transitions. Like you, I try to focus on the good that will come! Yes, I will so enjoy my new office and not having to sit on a bar stool in the kitchen any longer! Thanks for commenting Cheryl, hope to continue to hear your thoughts on other posts…

  3. suzjones says:

    I have had two children leave home. Neither has come back (except to visit). We now have only one at home and she’ll be here for at least another few years or so. Maybe more because she’s a Daddy’s girl.
    We never had the opportunity to leave the children’s rooms as is because we lived in such a tiny house (the GG bought it before meeting me and I already had children lol). Every inch of space was coveted. So when one child moved out, the bedrooms were rearranged and the baby moved out of our room. When the next one moved out, I had space for a craft room.
    We are in a larger house now and the older ones joke that we waited until they moved out before we upgraded. We reminded them that we couldn’t afford it when they still lived at home. But we are all joking. They know we will always find a way to take them back if they needed it. That’s what families do.
    But they also need to move on and expand. And after a while parents need to find spaces for themselves (although the joke in my house is that 95% of the spaces in this house belong to me lol).

    • Greet Grief says:

      Your comment makes me realize how blessed my children were that when they came back things were the same up until now. We do have to do things out of necessity as you have done with your home – if you are the MANAGER of the house, doesn’t that warrant 95% for your office? LOL, thanks for sharing Sue – hope you are having a sunshiny day?

      • suzjones says:

        Physically, the sun is shining once again (we need rain so bad). Mentally, I am a little foggy but it is Friday and I am hanging for the weekend!! 🙂
        I’m sure that the GG would argue the manager thing about the house though lol

      • Greet Grief says:

        I will pray for the fog to lift and for you to find sunshine both inside and out over the weekend. Hugs

  4. Patty Leander says:

    Kath…22 years?! I guess it is about time we become empty nesters! But really it is hard to believe so much time has passed. I still remember the day you moved into that model home down the street. When I came down to meet you and your sweet kids I was at first confused how they could be the same age yet two months apart. I didn’t want to pry but over time I came to understand. Love your posts – keep up the good work.

    • Greet Grief says:

      Yes Patty time does fly when you are blessed by living! This house has provided us with countless memories and this neighborhood wonderful lifelong friends like YOU! Thanks for reading and for your comment. Wish you were still down the street 😦

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