Their house sold within a few days to a family excited to move in to a wonderful neighborhood, beautiful homes, and a vibrant community. Months of hard labor fixing, improving, and updating were suddenly worthwhile. The swift sale, the ease of transactions, were also due to the hearts, soul, and spirit that my friends gave the house in the years that they lived there. Those qualities cannot be quantified, do not appear in the lovely pictures, but are as solid, real, and important as any coat of paint or new fixture.
I will not see the house for one last time, will not have the chance to say goodbye to the beloved, familiar rooms that hosted birthday parties and celebrations, witnessed heartache, and treasured children from bilious babies to thriving adults. Their house holds so many of my own beloved memories: toddlers navigating a tricky step, easing grievous sorrow, watching IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE for the umpteenth time, and sharing the best and the worst of who we are, what we think, how we feel.
Given the chance, I would run my hand on the bannister to the bedrooms upstairs, remembering the decorations, children racing up and down in play. I would sit on the deck, marinating in countless barbecues, children catching fireflies and negotiating playhouse games, times spent reading and sipping wine, admiring flowers, bemoaning voracious varmints, and blessing the sweet night air.
I would not — and will never — say goodbye to their kitchen table. That table, in many forms and iterations, has been defining bedrock in my life. That table has provided endless cups of tea and compassion during the tough parts and the joyous ones alike. There is always a place at the table, as there was in her mother’s house and there is always tea and wine, something delicious to eat, and a wonderful book.
As my friends pack up and say goodbye to their beloved home, I wish them smooth travels, minimal breakage, and bright new memories in their next home. Wherever the table goes, I go — this time with a bottle of champagne to toast their next grand adventure and to start the process of soaking the new walls with blessings, laughter, and conversation.