What makes a house a home?
I lived in the same house until I was 18, and then I moved back when I finished college. A sturdy brick house built by my dad, big enough for eleven kids as long as we shared rooms, nestled on a spacious acre where we could roam and play.
Home was messy and full of broken things that needed repair, but it was home. It was the place where I felt safe, the refuge I could return to when girls at school were mean to me, where I could be completely myself in a world where everyone only saw me as the quiet, shy one. It was where I laughed with my sisters and nestled next to my mom. Where I returned from my first date and cried over my first heartbreak. I know the spot where my brother punched a hole in the wall, the perfect patch of sunlight in the living room, the second-story door that used to lead to nothing, the archway that everyone bashes their head on.
I have a new home now, that I've built with Mr. Brown Eyes. It's where we have brought home all four of our babies, where we have laughed and cried and dreamed together.
But somehow my childhood home remained "home," too. I would drop in to visit my parents several times a week, sometimes spending the night with my kids, always greeted by my mom's home-cooking. I always felt like it was still my house.
So when my dad mentioned selling it after Mom died, I almost felt like I was losing someone else I loved.
The house is staying in the family, but soon it will hardly resemble the place I grew up. With Mom gone, it's slowly been emptied of the boxes (and I mean boxes) of things she kept--our grade school report cards, pictures, notes we wrote her--her closet full of yarn, and the smiley faces that brightened every corner. As my brother prepares to move in, the furniture is moving out, and last week my sister and I took the pictures off the walls.
The change hurts, but I've known it was coming, and as I've prepared myself for it I have realized that the things we are getting rid of are just things. They aren't what made the house home. Even the house itself is a thing. Its four walls and leaky roof sheltered us, but what made it home were the people inside of it and who they helped me become.
I hope my children remember their childhood home with fondness, but I also hope they remember that home is in your heart, and you can keep it with you always.