Letting go

We’ve set some big wheels in motion. And now it’s our job to run fast enough to keep up with them.

We expect to have the house on the market by the end of the month. Lord help us.

Like a lot of people, we’ve been using COVID time to make some home improvements and catch up on overdue upgrades. But now we are ramping that up to get ready to sell. We’ve been in this house for 20 years. We raised our family here. The memories live in every scratch and dusty corner. And sometimes the moments dedicated to boxing up belongings turn into hours of reminiscing.

This week we had the basement carpet cleaned, which meant we cleared the entire space of furniture. Karen and I sat on the empty floor late at night and recalled the family movie nights. The endless hours of building Legos. New Year’s Eve parties. Middle school sleepovers. Dance, Dance Revolution. The many people who have stayed at the Noltner halfway house for transient loved ones. Friends going through hard times. Others attending seminary. Buddies moving to town for a new job and needing a place to start out. Adult children between leases and weathering COVID. Sometimes with their friends in tow. We have sheltered plenty, because they needed it and because they made our lives richer.

I’m reluctant to let myself get too emotional these days, because there’s so much to do. But my reluctance doesn’t do much to stem the flow. There were tears as we sat on the floor. There are daily waves of grief at the life we are about to leave, even as we are certain that it’s time to go. Or, as certain as one can be.

You can’t do everything, and even as we know there are adventures and stories and connections waiting down the road, it means we are leaving two decades of memories on Little Road (which is actually an average sized road).

On Thursday, a pair of strong men showed up to take our baby grand piano away. We’re pretty sure one of them was the same guy who helped deliver it 20 years ago. It was the first piece of furniture we bought for the new house…a dream of mine. And through the years, the kids took lessons. Friends plunked on it. Brenna and I wrote a song together at that piano when her grandma died. Brenna sang a song for Jordan there when he graduated from high school.

A few times, we held Christmas sing-alongs with 100 friends and neighbors gathered around the piano singing carols robustly as wine and good cheer flowed freely. We worried a bit that the floors wouldn’t support the weight of so many people, but they still stand today.

There’s no room for a baby grand in a camper, so we listed it on Facebook marketplace and a young mom came to look at it. She and her husband have two kids about the same age as ours were when we got the piano. She was excited to give it a new home. And so were we. And a little sad.

When those sturdy guys hauled the piano out, I kept my composure. I took a few videos as they carried it away. I thanked them as they loaded it on the truck and as soon as I went inside, closed the door and returned to the living room where it had stood for two decades, the tears came.

Not everything is meant to last forever. You can’t experience what’s new unless you let go of what’s familiar. And it’s possible to be excited for the future while mourning what you will leave behind.

7 comments

  1. Jill

    Thank you for sharing your journey, John. Yes, transitions are bittersweet. When I moved to Casablanca, Morocco for a couple years to teach Montessori, all my worldly possession fit into a small storage unit. It helped me focus on the important items. Many can be stored in pictures. Congratulations on taking a big leap, there are days you’ll love it or hate it, but the growth is invigorating.

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  2. Gail Anderson

    So beautiful. I have this milestone ahead of me and I got teary-eyed just thinking about all the memories this house holds. 28 years for me. Blessings on your journey. You stay young by taking risks and risking change.

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  3. Heidi Currier

    This is my new favorite read. I admire how you are taking a risk (not without consideration), forging into a new future while appreciating and grieving what you’re leaving behind. Opening yourselves to wonderful experiences and possibilities to give and receive and make the world better. What an inspiration! Keep sharing your journey, please.

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    • Thank you Heidi…I’m grateful for the ways you have supported and encouraged A Peace of My Mind along the way. There is a journey of discovery waiting for all of us. I’ll be glad to have you along for it.

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  4. Genie Trewyn

    I”m literally in tears because we will not be returning also to Little Rd, a place that we truly loved to visit but I know the memories will not be replaced but only added to the collection of the many new experiences and memories that you and Karen have yet to know. Luv to you both!

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