Still generating familiar sights and smells, instead of bringing joy, they now only create an aching sense of emptiness and loss.
I find it hard to go back into the old house alone now. Mainly because when I go through the door I’m by myself, but I’m not alone …
Mom has been gone for well over two years, and most of the time, I cope with the loss with a certain sense of detachment.
While I think about her often, it’s from a safe distance. I don’t get too close to the memories and if the pain becomes too much, I can simply push it aside and move on.
But, not when I enter the old house.
Just as soon as I open the front door, a rush of intense memories floods my consciousness and I catch myself looking around the corner into the kitchen where she spent so many hours cooking for family, friends, and even strangers.
I expect to see her standing there … her stooped, thin, slight figure weaving and trembling in front of the stove, her active mind, still sharp and focused … fighting desperately to control her wasted body, wracked with the effects of Parkinson’s disease.
It hurt to watch her struggle so. But, now when I don’t see her, it hurts even more.
Mom was the soul of the old house. Her presence made it what it was then and now her absence makes it what it is today.
Passing through the door to the old house vividly reminds me of what was there once, and what will never, ever be there again.
For many years after our family grew up and moved away, we would still come home to the old house. At times relaxed, at other times chaotic, the house was always a source of comfort.
Not any more.
Now, the old house is simply a cold, quiet, empty place … long on memories, but short on joy.