When I tell my friends that my mom’s house has been sold and handed over to new owners, they respond in one of two ways:
“That’s wonderful!” some say. “You must be so relieved!” or “That must have been so hard."
Of course, both responses are accurate.
I am relieved to have completed such a major task in a short period of time, and relatively painlessly in regard to the complexities of modern day living. There were a couple of hiccups early on when two private party sales fell through, but when the house went on the market there were good offers on the first day, and the entire process from listing to closing took only 10 days. No bureaucratic hoops, no dickering over prices, no complaining about things that needed repair. A relief indeed. And as I’ve written, dispersing my mom’s belongings among friends and family has been quite a gift, and made that painful process much easier to bear.
But yes, it’s hard so hard to leave behind my second home, to know I can never walk into the kitchen in the morning and be greeted with the mouth watering aroma of coffee, buttery toast, and frying bacon. Hard to know I can never sit on the patio, drinking iced tea and watching Magic and Molly come racing up from the end of the yard, their tails high and waving like proud, happy flags.
Hard to accept my mother is no longer there and never will be again.
Over the weekend I spent a lot of time sitting outside on my own back porch, our cozy little deck that’s one of my favorite places here in the condo. I was exhausted. I was grief stricken all over again. I could barely shuffle my feet from the chair to the kitchen to refill my water glass. The Labor Day holiday was oddly appropriate for me, since I felt as if I’d completed a long period of heavy labor.
It was time to rest, and I did. Time to take care of myself, and I did.
On Tuesday, Jim went back to work and I woke up with a renewed sense of energy, a feeling of lightness I hadn’t felt in a long time. I cleaned and decluttered the house, did several loads of laundry, and reorganized my kitchen pantry. Despite the heat and humidity (95 degrees in September?? What’s up with that??) I got into my blazing hot car and did some necessary errands - Pet Smart, Kroger, bank and post office. Then took refuge for an hour in Barnes and Noble, sipping an iced coffee and checking out the new releases. (Did I ever tell you that Barnes and Noble is within biking distance of my house, located in the complex with my grocery store, office supply store and pet store? Pretty cool, right?) When I came home I changed into a cool sundress, prepared dinner - a simple salmon with maple syrup/balsamic vinegar, rice, salad - poured a glass of wine, grabbed my book, and put my feet up.
Probably none of that sounds particularly exciting. But you know what? I loved that day. I was busy, but able to putter around on my own, doing all the little things that make me feel like life is orderly and sensible and manageable. I’ve been missing that feeling.
Life is always a mixture of things, isn’t it? One event (like selling my mother’s house) sparking a multitude of different emotional responses. Our bodies needing rest and activity in balanced amounts.
September is my mental New Year, and I know a lot of you feel the same way. It feels right to start out on this new part of my life journey in September, to take forward steps into what comes next. A big part of what comes next is taking better care of ME. I’ve spent my entire life (at least it feels like it) taking care of other people, a role that’s been quite intense over the past decade. What would it feel like to put myself first once in a while?
I’m about to find out.
Next week, I’m taking some days to retreat, a mini-vacation just for me. I’m going to a beautiful resort where I can lie around the pool, wander through shops, go to the movies, have wonderful meals prepared by someone else, take walks in the morning and boat rides in the evening. I will follow my own schedule, make my own plans, irrespective of anyone else’s needs or desires.
It has been years and years since I’ve lived like that for one minute.
One of the hardest things I’ve dealt with in losing my mother is the feeling that no one will ever care for me in the same way she did, no one will ever love me so unconditionally, no one will forever put my needs ahead of their own the way she did.
So I have to do that for myself. Because if I don’t, no one else will.
Starting now. Forward motion.
How about you? Are there ways you put yourself first in life?