One Box on the Counter

The girl next to me on the plane looks like Amanda Seyfried, from Les Mis and Mamma Mia. Which means she also looks like my friend Joelle from high school. Timeless beauty, blond hair that’s just past control, piled high on her head in an unruly bundle.

She’s thin. Even when she reached up into the overhead bin to put her bag away, when her shirt rose with her arms and the ribbon of her middle peeked through just above her jeans, she’s thin. She brought an orange and almonds to snack on. She peeled her orange during take off, and she has a small pile of large peels on the corner of her seatback tray. It smells so fresh. I’d like to thank her for bringing organic air freshener.

But I don’t feel like talking.

She’s wearing a sparkling diamond on her left hand. A simple, thin band. All understated but nonetheless glistening in the dimmed lights of the cabin. She’s writing notes on lime green stationery. She’s working her way down a list. I see ‘thank you’ written at the top of one; she’s writing thank you notes. Maybe she just finished a bridal shower. Maybe her college girls hooked her up with satins and scents for the honeymoon. Maybe her mom’s friends have equipped her kitchen. She’s getting married. She’ll write a million of those notes. She should start with the oldest guests on her gift list. They’re the ones who most anticipate the hand-written thank you. If she gets to the end of the list and she’s run out of steam, the college girls won’t mind at all if she shoots them a text to say: “Tx for the sexy stuff. He’s going to luv it. xoxoxo.”

Today was the closing on my Cherryhurst home. I wasn’t there; I was in Chicago, growing less charmed by the hot dogs and popcorn that swept me off my feet 48 hours ago when I started this trip home. But the buyers moved forward. Because it’s their house now. And they don’t need my signature to complete their half of the ownership. They asked if they can come in my house – their house now – to begin their appointments with contractors and decorators house-changers. It’s just that I left one more box on the counter. I was going to go get it this morning, walk the halls, visit each room, and lock the door one more time. But, the whole Chicago thing happened. I think I subconsciously – or subversively? – left it there so I’d have one more reason to go back. One more time. Today it became their home. They got to come in and make their plans and dream their dreams. And my box sat on the kitchen counter. I want to be home. I want to be home.

I have cried a lot today. At a Chicago Starbucks with one friend. On the phone at the airport with another.

Dear lovely bride beside me, with your tousled hair and your sparkling left hand, I have no words for you.

Except maybe this. Beginnings are beautiful. Endings are hard. Transitions matter. Say thank you a lot, to your mom, your friends, your friends’ moms, and your mom’s friends. Tomorrow I’m going to say goodbye to my house. And I’ll take my last box, and I’ll lock the door with someone else’s key. That’s what I would say to you, lovely bride.

But I just don’t feel like talking.

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9 thoughts on “One Box on the Counter

  1. I can really see your seat mate. I never sit by such interesting, cute people. I am wondering what was in that final box, just wondering. Memories? Odds and ends? Miscellaneous?

  2. I’m so sad for you. It’s only been 14 months since my husband died and I’m still living in the same home. Will I be in your shoes next year? Who knows. Thank you for writing all the feelings that I have but can’t verbalize.

  3. Gratitude–a posture of moving through grief that those without faith cannot understand. May you be blessed today with a heart humbled by the love of God that lifts our spirits and restores our brokenness.

  4. Dear Tricia,
    My first husband did not die, he chose to leave; but I went through similar stages of grief. I remember the agony of selling the home we built together. I was thrilled that the new couple loved it and wanted to buy it (because selling it was necessary), but when she talked of how she adored the kitchen I wanted to scream, “That’s my kitchen!”
    May the God of all comfort be near to you and soothe your raw soul.
    Blessings,
    Selena

  5. I’m glad you are creating closure. You have to say goodbye! Beautiful memories were made there. You said goodbye to your love there. Praying for you today!

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