Yesterday we closed the door on a chapter in our lives and a house that holds so many memories for us. We sold the last home we shared as a family with Matt.
The day we bought the house 5 years ago, Quinn was there. She was a rambunctious 3 year old and keeping her quiet at the closing table was a task. Our realtor helped with candy and books.
Yesterday was no different. Upon arrival, before we ever got to the closing table, she was handed a handful of chocolate and dug through their piles of toys. Like the day we bought it, she played at our feet while we signed away our lives. It only seemed right that Matt’s ashes be at the closing table right beside us. We also brought a bottle of welsh whiskey from the place he vacationed as a child and where we spread some of his ashes for his memorial last December. Shots were involved. I took his, and mine. He would be proud.
I struggled to hold it together. I am so happy for the new owners. They have taken us in and loved us and been so amazing throughout the whole process. Selling a house when someone dies is not easy. Emotionally, it’s hard. Technically, it’s hard. They were patient while I navigated uncharted territory. I knew selling the house was the right thing to do in order for us to move on, but it’s hard to leave the last place we ever hugged him. Knowing we can visit whenever we want helps.
I held it together until we got to the car, then I lost it momentarily. The closing was right down the road from Matt’s favorite curvy road that leads to a place we affectionately call “Matt Hill”. We put the top down on mustang Sally and headed up.
Kids process grief differently than we do. Most days, our daughter is ok. But sometimes I catch her staring off into space and, when I ask her what she’s thinking about, the answer is always “my daddy”. She held on to the ammo box that we keep his ashes in and we sang his favorite songs to the top of our lungs.
When we got to the top, she wanted to see the view. As a family, we all share a love for mountain tops and tall buildings. She marched that box to the rock and stood there for a minute, just taking it all in. Then, like the bravest little girl in the whole world, she lifted it above her head to show her daddy. I ugly cried.
Grief, like everything else in life, is fluid. It comes and goes. Sometimes it hits us so hard that we struggle to function. Some days we are just going through the motions of life trying to make it to the end of the day. The days it hits us the hardest are long.
Here’s what I know about life- you have to let go. Letting go of the material things of this earth even though they hold memories is forward momentum. The memories don’t disappear when you sign on the dotted line. If anything, you hold them closer to your heart because you no longer have the tangible property that gave you the memories. Letting go is painful in its own right, but necessary for growth. It would’ve been easier for us to stay there forever. Packing the house up to move was hard. Listing the house for sale was hard. Moving into a new house was hard, especially alone. But we weren’t alone. He was right there with us, and every decision we had to make was honoring his legacy. My daughter is in the town he wanted her to grow up in, going to the school he hand picked for her, getting the education he dreamed of, surrounded by people that love us. That’s everything to me. We’re honoring him by doing what we said we would do, even through the hard.
I don’t know what’s next for us. I don’t know what the years will bring, but I do know that we are exactly where we’re supposed to do living the life he wanted for us. I know he’s with us, even if we can’t hold him. I know he’s laughing with us, crying with us, and somewhere, he’s shaking his head at the million ways I’ve screwed up this last year without him. I never claimed to be the best at widowing and I openly admit that I have no idea what I’m doing.
When we got back in the car to drive back down I looked down and noticed something that wasn’t there last time. Spray painted on the asphalt was one word- “Turbo”.
Talk about a Godwink. Matt owned a mustang when Quinn was 3. It’s the last solid memory she has of her dad before he was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer at age 33. This is the reason I bought another one, same color, so that she would have that connection to her dad and so we could make the same kind of memories together. It’s unconventional, but it’s the ultimate mom-mobile. When Matt would take her driving, she would shout “Turbo!” and he would punch it, squealing tires and leaving “elevens”, as he liked to say. She would laugh uncontrollably with her chubby little baby fists in the air. He was the cool dad.
I know we’re going to be ok. Life hasn’t turned out like we planned, but it never really does. I never dreamed we would have to live life without him. I feel a constant ache in my heart for what we lost, but every day I remind myself to move the mountain in front of me. Yesterday we did that. The view from the top was pretty awesome.
Especially with Daddy riding shotgun.
“He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20