My mother’s tiny Florida home sold last week. Selling the house represents a milestone for my mother’s future care, and simultaneously, a new emotional river to swim through. This river runs deep, littered with floating memories and mementos. Porcelain Christmas houses, fragile bird statues, hand-carved armoires, and hodgepodge glass dishes, all tossed into a new rising current.
In early March, I fly down into another unknown, but I won’t be alone. I’ll be traveling with my hubby and meeting up with my brother. Though a short visit, I’ll both see my mom and inventory her decades-long collection of breakable things. Some childhood tokens will undoubtedly make their way home with me, but the others, where will their journey take them? A dumpster? Another home?
Thinking about the inevitable emptying of my mother’s home, I am least looking forward to unearthing long forgotten memories of my mom, of the times when she was better, and missing that which will never be the same.
In time, I’ll come to cherish those memories, but right now, I turn away, afraid of the grief, afraid of letting go. Much more than emptying a house full of stuff, I’m emptying out my heart, letting myself grieve.
Grief is painful, yet when I let it in, oddly beautiful. When I surrender fully to the emotions of grief (because grief isn’t just one emotion, it is many-sadness, anger, confusion to name a few), my heart opens, pouring out like a river. My memories float along the surface and for a moment, catching my breath, the waves no longer beat upon me. No longer my enemy, the river of grief becomes a long lost friend.
Have you had to empty a parent’s home? What advice do you have?