There are times in life when we are called to make a change. Many of the changes I’ve made have been relocating. In my 58 years, I have moved a total of 17 times. Tomorrow, will be number 18. With each move I make, I not only say goodbye to my home, I say goodbye to all it represented and all the memories it held. My life, as I have known it, since the summer of 2011, is about to change drastically.
As I sit here looking at empty walls, I’m surrounded by packed boxes -stacked 4 feet high- and a deep sense of sadness comes over me. Tonight is the last night I will sleep in the home that Raymond bought, gutted, remodeled, loved and invited me to share with him.
Moving has always been a time of reflection for me. I sit here tonight in a state of utmost gratitude for the blessing this little place had been. First for Raymond, then for us together, and finally for me, alone.
I remember the first time I came out here to visit Raymond. He was so proud to show me what he had done to this mobile home. Located in a small, woodsy park consisting of two blocks and 60 mobile homes. He took me to the little lake, which is located around the block. We spent the day catching sunfish and laughing.
The next day, we went bar hopping. He took me to all of his favorite spots. The first, a quaint bar on Harsens Island called Sans Souci. It was March and there was still ice on the Saint Clair River. The 10 minute ferry ride across was scary for me. The icebergs were being pushed by the current at a pretty rapid pace. It was nothing I had ever experienced before. On the ferry ride home, he pretended that he was steering the car and we laughed and laughed. We must have gone to six different places that day and every pub we went to, Raymond boldly asked the waitress, “Isn’t this the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?” I sat there embarrassed as Raymond pulled me closer and wrapped his arms around me. He was proud to show me off and he dubbed me “The Queen of Algonac!”
At our last stop for the evening, we were sitting on bar stools, and he pulled mine closer to him. His piercing blue eyes looked deep into mine and said he had something important to tell me.
“I lied to you about something and I feel terrible,” he said, in a deep, quiet voice. My mind raced. My first thought was, this son of a bitch is married!
“I lied about my age,” he admitted. I’m not 10 years older than you, I am 12 years older.” What a relief! I told him age was just a number and I didn’t care and he jokingly stated, “Well, the worst that could happen is we fall madly in love and I die!”
That is exactly what happened.
We fell madly in love.
And he died.
When I moved into this home, we worked hard to compromise about what things of mine would come and what I needed to get rid of. My bed was not negotiable. We got rid of his bed and I brought mine. He also gave me the second bedroom to use as my beading/meditation room. We planned on buying a winter home in Florida, so many of my things went into a storage unit to save to furnish our winter home. It was never to be.
For me, this home started out as our “love-shack!” We were so happy together. Every night when we went to bed, we talked and laughed for hours before falling asleep. Raymond was such a character! He really entertained me.
Then, after Raymond was diagnosed with cancer, our home became the place where he completed everything he wanted to do before he died. I was honored to witness him call every person he thought that he had wronged and make amends. He got all his affairs in order. We went to the funeral home together to arrange and pay for his memorial. Then we went to the city office and bought his cemetery plot. He told me he wanted to die at home in our bed. He shared his last wishes with me. And through it all, as sick as he was, he never complained… a ‘bad ass’ until the end. The end of his life and “our dreams” together.
After he was gone, this home became my grieving space. It held me in its arms and witnessed my sadness. It became my healing sanctuary. It was a long process, with many days spent sobbing on the couch. But, as the years went by, I slowly began to feel lighter. Now I can say, that in my own timing and in my own way, I have healed!
Tomorrow after the movers drive away and I look upon an empty home, I know that I will be melancholy. When I close the door for the final time, leaving the keys on the counter, I will also be closing the chapter of “My life in Algonac.” I’m sure it will be very emotional. It’s never easy to say goodbye, yet it seems especially true for this place. My little home in the woods, near the banks of the Saint Clair River, that Raymond loved so much.
So, I sit here with great gratitude and appreciation for the many gifts of this home. I am finally ready to move on, to my next house.
Tomorrow is the day! Move number 18- to a small condo, in Northville, where I will open a new door and begin again. I’m excited to be much closer to my family and friends. And so it is… a new chapter in my life. Goodbye, mobile home. Goodbye, Algonac. Thank you.