In late June, I made the painful decision to sell the home I’ve lived in in Easthampton, Massachusetts, a year before my husband, Steve, and I actually need to move to our home in New Hampshire. Thanks to COVID-19, the market is hot this year, and next year, it could be dismal.
The time to act was now.
So, July was spent thinking about packing, and a few weeks ago, I started the horrendous job in earnest. The physical work is exhausting me, as is the emotional work of letting go.
So much happened in this house. This is where my late husband, Ed, and I got married, and it is where he died. This is where my grandson Eli spent the first year of his life. It’s where my daughters grew up. And honestly, except for the summer home we had on a lake in New Hampshire for many decades, it is where I grew up, too. (My new book, with its new name, Willful Evolution, tells that story. Please look for it this fall.)
My home is not just a house. It’s an expansive piece of property with two garages, a garden shed, a deck, a gazebo, and a half dozen garden Edens that provide beauty and comfort—and lots of bouquets in summer. There is a wow factor to this home that will not exist in the Easthampton apartment we will rent until we can move, where there is also no view to speak of—except out at Route 10—and there is no beauty.
I must continually remind myself that there is ample “Wow” in Laconia, New Hampshire, where the house Steve and I bought sits on a lake. My brother Al and his wife are my neighbors. My mom and brother Jeff and his wife are five minutes away.
Focus, Janice. Focus on the good.
I’m trying. Really hard. But things get in my way.
Like when I look out at the gazebo from my office window and realize I will never host another gathering there or sit there with Steve, friends, or my family, gazing around the yard at the dwarf trees, the pond, the rhododendrons, and hydrangea.
Like the things I’ve been finding—photos of Ed when he was battling lung cancer, for instance, and the cards people sent me after he died. I have to decide: What do I do with these? I’m making the choices that feel right, and when nothing feels right, I err on the side of taking the item with me.
I kept the photos. The cards went in the blue recycling bin. My dear friend Judith Kelliher, who has spent hours helping me pack, deposited them for me. I could not do it. Judy also found a new home for the boots I bought a decade ago at Walmart and wore nearly every minute of my life, when the temperature dipped below 70 degrees.
“Buggy, you cannot take those,” Judy told me as she watched me placing them in a box.
“But I can’t throw them away. They’ll be so sad.”
“Bug, they are boots. Give them to me. I’ll take good care of them.”
I think my boots met a trash bin somewhere. I can’t think about that. Because, dammit, I am thinking about the good things!
I am thinking that I no longer have to take care of this big place. It’s an older home, and soon, I won’t have to worry about what might break or go wrong.
I don’t have to pay for this big place.
Steve and I will have a new place that is all ours. A fresh start. We will sit in our cozy living room. We can sit in the back yard and stare at woods and meadows while I kick his butt at cribbage. I mean, as we play a friendly game of cards.
I have a much bigger office, and a nicer gym at the apartment.
There are so many potential opportunities. And I am really good at figuring out what they are.