When it came to home and what we faced, there were two outcomes we experienced. Some of us – as kids - couldn’t wait to grow up and move away from home. We plotted, schemed, and chose the farthest college we could find. But some how when we got there, we realized being on our own, for whatever reason, wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Then there were some of us who waited until after college - when we grew older – to move away from the home we knew and sometimes loved. Either way, over the years, as life happened, circumstances changed, and we grew wiser our desire to go back home was ever present. We wanted to go back to what we knew, whether good or bad, it was our comfort zone that drew us in. Some times we even mentally fought ourselves with the notion of going back home. It’s too late! It’s impossible to go back to the way things were! Nothing will ever be the same! It’s true. We can’t turn the clock back. Not even to when we were children without a care in the world. But the truth is we CAN go home again. Yes, we are different now and so is home. But this time, as adults, our goal is to make home what we want and need it to be…a place of comfort, security and love.
As many of you know shortly after my husband passed away I moved out of the town where I had lived for so many years. Everywhere I turned there were memories of what used to be. Painful memories. In addition to the home we shared, all around town were the places we frequented. The cleaners where he examined the French cuffs on his shirts to make sure they were just right. The Shoprite where he took what seemed like an hour to pick the right roast pork for his pernil (or the right ingredients for his grandmother’s secret fried chicken recipe). The local diner where everyone knew us by name and knew his favorite drink. Even driving pass the park where we took our walks had been so painful that at times it took my breath away.
Of course when I left town the memories came with me. But eventually that overwhelming pain became less and less, as I tried to navigate this “new normal” that had become my life. And the constant feeling of loneliness became less crushing as I began to do things on my own.
It has been a year since I moved away. And during that time I learned several things. I learned you can still hold your head up high in a town where they do not take kindly to strangers. I learned that the overwhelming feeling of pain and loneliness will not kill you. I learned that even though you may want to die, if God has a plan for you - you are not going anywhere. I learned that it is important to have various types of friends. Friends that will cry along with you; friends that’ll make you laugh. And the ones who will kick your butt and stop you from continuing to feel sorry for yourself. I learned that your real friends will stick by you. I learned that it is true what they say “it is better to have loved and lost than never to have been loved at all.” I learned there is always a reason to get up from that dark corner where you tried to hibernate. I learned that no matter how much you pray that the pain will go away, it will still remain. The pain becomes something you learn to live with; that eventually becomes a part of your life. I learned that even though you can no longer see the one you love they remain with you. There are signs of them everywhere. Maybe you can feel them in a song; a commercial you used to laugh at together; the smell of their cologne; in the words repeated by their child, grandchild or sibling. Even in a voice of a stranger. I have learned that we are all stronger than we think. And above all, I have learned you can go home again.
Now a year later, I have moved back home. Back to the town where the memories live. I admit, some of the memories still hurt but along with the pain stands an overwhelming feeling of love, warmth, happiness, and occasionally laughter. Home is where our two families became one. Home is where we learned to love, be patient, and forgive. Home is like a big bowl of creamy soup; it comforts and warms from the inside out.
On my first full day back in town, I went to my favorite nail salon with my daughter-in-law and five year old granddaughter. As the woman massaged my feet I laid my head back and thought of the last time I was there. Before I left the house my husband teased me about what shade of red would I get this time. (Anytime I tried another color it just didn’t feel right). For some reason I was partial to the shade called “Fishnet Stockings”, I’m sure Freud would have something to say about that, but that’s for another time.
I smiled thinking of him teasing me and I laughed…right out loud. My daughter-in-law and granddaughter looked at me as if I had