Farewell Letter

Dear 5443 Wellesley Avenue,

We were quite fond with you from the beginning--being the first house we saw that morning prior to the string of doozies we would encounter later.  It was pretty easy to claim you, but not so easy to seal the deal.  Oh the headache of that closing and that move.  But you were ready for us.

It was easy to invite people over--to get to know them, sit with them, eat with them here.  You had the space and we loved to open your door and let these friends in to be with us.  We enjoyed hosting others and you made it easy to do so.  This open space here, to carry on conversations.  To care for these beloved people.  Your kitchen was graced with a slew of wonderful people who came to prepare a bountiful thanksgiving dinner one year.  They made themselves at home here too, and were so willing to bring the food to fix so we could stay inside.  There have been games played here at your table, on your worn wooden floors.  Laughter reverberating.  You have seen the faces of these friends.  You have seen the faces of our families that has traveled so far to find rest here in our midst.  To be with us and add to the beauty of making you full of life and memories.

I painted your door that rich red color as the autumn season fell over you, adding small yellowish-brown painted leaves.  It was fitting since you are at your best, you radiate the most, in autumn.  The crispness outside is sweetly breathed-into your walls and this place, but we can nestle in deep when the chill wisps through.  I've painted every room in this house (the exception is Sophie's second coat of paint--that was the work of Russ and Ben).  I know where the crack lines end, the chips of paint Tozer has scraped off along the floor boards.  I've pounded many of those nails into your walls in order to lay these beautiful photos of our family, of the things we adore, pierced onto you--as if it were a sacrifice of sweet perfume.  This is what you've enjoyed--being beautified by what we are, who we are in picture form.  Being touched by hands who cared for you.

And you've seen it all, 5443.  You know what it sounds like when we are gone and Tozer is left here by himself, and he barks.  What does it sound like?   What does he do when we are gone?  You stretched out your carpeted steps for this small puppy to climb--and it took a few weeks for him to master those.  We have kissed in your presence.  We have yelled and cried furry in the shelter of these beams.  We have been weak with sickness and hearty with happiness.  We have rested still, and we have busied ourselves--in and out.  in and out.

You have seen us cary our wee babes into this home.  We have covered them with pure kisses and rocked them in the early morning light that sparkled in through your windows.  They have crawled across your floors and learned to walk with unsteady feet upon you as you held still.  And you rejoiced with us, allowing us to jump up and down with excitement at these milestones, keeping us balanced.  You are the home these girls will return to someday...maybe.  And as young women, when they see you, they will think, how can something so big can look so small?  Because for a time, you were their world.  We all fit in you, and we were their world.

I've almost figured out all of your creaks--and how to methodically avoid most of them to check on my sleeping beauties.   The messes, the spills, the stains, the bumps, the scrapes.  All of them you graciously took, without complaining.

Do you breathe?  I sense that you do.  In only the way a house that has been loved by us, we who have never owned a home before, could love their first home.  Magical and mysterious.

And now you are becoming empty again like when we first met you--vacant.  Little by little.  I'm discovering things that I've tucked away in your nooks and crannies.  We will be leaving you, dear house.  We will be leaving this street, these neighborhoods you straddled.  We will be leaving the beautiful grit of this city.  We will be leaving our church family, our community.  We will be leaving this place that has molded us into better people--challenged us to think and transform.  To adjust to something that was so different, but now we can't quite imagine living without.  You, house, were our roots.  

It will be hard to tear ourselves away from here, knowing that we won't feel another autumn wrapped up inside of you, sing "happy birthday" to our Audrey for you to hear, decorate you for Christmas with twinkling lights, create meals and invite others to eat with us at your table.  And so on.  Will you miss us?

And so we say good-bye, for now.  And we ask that you care for this new family that will settle into you with the same patience and generosity that you bestowed upon us.  Make them feel, well, at home--because with all that we can, we want them to be at home here as if you were their own.

We have  been blessed beyond anything we imagined starting out on our voyage from Wisconsin.  But so our voyage continues on, as we chart our course across the Atlantic and over to the Middle East.  We will return, a bit changed.  And you will be so too.  Life weathers us each.

The more the rain falls on the earth, the softer it makes it; similarly, Christ's holy name gladdens the earth of our heats the more we call upon it.--St. Hesychios the Priest (9th cen)

The softer you became, house, as you bore up under the heavy rains from the heavens, and the pounding of our feet crossing back and forth.  We leave you.  We will call upon Christ's holy name as we depart, as we live elsewhere.   For God is the builder--of even you, house, He has allowed you to stand.  And we are glad.