The House I Said Goodbye To

I drove through my old neighborhood a couple months ago on the way back from a friend’s baby shower. I pulled up outside my old house and couldn’t help but park alongside the curb. The fence I had poured hours into staining by myself had been replaced. The pergola I always wanted was on the second story deck, adorned by outdoor strings of lights. The rose bushes I planted with the help of my former mother-in-law still looked so good in the front lawn. I smiled when I looked at the house – it was a better version of what it was when it was mine. It had the upgrades I had dreamed of and they looked as good as I knew they would. Suddenly, the tears fell and I couldn’t stop them – but the tears weren’t sadness or regret, only relief. I loved that house, but as I sat there staring at it from the road, I realized I didn’t miss it. As the tears fell, I realized both my old house and myself had become better versions of ourselves.

When I filed for divorce, I agonized over the decision of keeping the house. I loved the view, the way you could see over the entire town and the sunsets out the west window. I loved the cattle pasture that was behind our fence. It was the house where I brought my babies home and it was in a neighborhood I loved. I thought it would be the front step my kids’ would someday hold the ‘first day of kindergarten’ signs.

Eight years later, as I sat outside my old house, I thought about how I didn’t know it would turn out like this. I thought about the day I drove away, the day I left the plan I had for my life – or the plan I thought I had. I sat there, wishing at age 30 I could have seen what I now know at age 38. I wish I could’ve told my 30-year-old self it was about to get so much better. I wish I could’ve told my younger self that the temporary apartment would turn out to be the perfect steppingstone we needed. My kids didn’t mind going from a house to an apartment, they saw it as an upgrade because we suddenly had a pool. Years later, we still talk about how much we loved the year in that apartment. I loved the view of sunsets back then, but those can’t even compare to how much I love them now.

When I drove home later that day, I was overwhelmed with a new appreciation for getting from there to here. Now it’s laughter in the evenings, a driveway covered in chalk and soccer balls scattered across the yard. There’s a small barn out back and animals I always dreamed of adopting.

The days in between then and now were not always easy. There was a lot of uncertainty and a lot of tears shed. As a single mom, it was terrifying, but it was worth it. If I would’ve stayed, I never would have had what I have now. I said goodbye to my old house that day, something I never took the time to do on the day I moved out. I said goodbye to that place and those years and graciously thanked God for the journey that brought me home.

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