Last week, I wrote about opening the door to our future as a family of four and moving forward as we fill the void that my husband left behind. I was riding quite an emotional rollercoaster as I penned my thoughts.
The following few days were filled with continued packing and moving. Friday, after work, I was surrounded by the love of some family and friends as we broke open the storage unit where the belongings from our former home were kept, and then broke open the boxes containing countless items and many memories of the life we are leaving behind. I was overwhelmed, and began to function on auto-pilot as a self-preservation technique. I just wanted the boxes gone and this new place to look less like the storage unit and more like a livable space before my sons joined my daughter and I again.
My daughter was taken for an overnight visit with her uncle and "aunt," and I was left alone in the apartment that, as of Friday night, was almost entirely unpacked due to the help of my dear friend (the aforementioned aunt) who helped me trudge through the misery and unfold the layers of our life. I laid in bed for quite some time, reminiscing of various items we found in boxes and in the storage unit, making a mental note of which items I want to rid my life of, and which to tuck safely away until either myself or my children are ready for them again someday. I shed some tears, and finally fell asleep, surrounded by both new items and the items from my past that were less likely to haunt me and more likely to help us move forward in a somewhat familiar setting.
Saturday, she and I finished unpacking what we could before I make the trek to get my boys and bring them to our new home. She blessed me with the gift of finishing as I drove, which I cannot thank her enough for. When I saw my boys for the first time in a week, my oldest almost immediately asked if we could go home to our new apartment. I couldn't believe how excited he was. I was still in an auto-pilot mode, and not really that excited. It was more just a matter of fact that we were living here now. It was just a new apartment.
His excitement rubbed off on me as we drove, and by the time we neared the apartment, I was looking forward to letting them inside to see their new room, and hear what they thought of it all. They ran as fast as their little legs could carry them up the deck stairway, only to be stopped by the baby gate that they couldn't climb over, until I could unlock the place and lift them over.
It was like they had been here all along. Somehow, they just knew were their favorite things would be stored and went immediately to them to drag them out. They squealed with delight as their treasures were strewn about and they began to play like this was the apartment they had left a week ago, not really blinking an eye that it was actually quite different. When their sister joined us, she giggled and struggled to get to them, and finally joined their side. They all played in the boys room.
It was then that this place finally felt like home. I needed to see them here, fitting right in, happy and laughing and comfortable. Then, it wasn't just a new apartment to me. Then, it became home.
We spent a full day here today, with the exception of church, and it really does feel like we've been here for much longer. Ironically, it was three years ago today that we started unpacking our home that we last lived in with their father, before Collin was even born. I have had a few moments of reminiscing and silent tears, but overall, today just felt right. The stress of our last apartment was gone. I feel like I can breathe here. I feel like maybe I'll finally be able to sleep here (assuming the children start sleeping better, too). We have had our blinds open all day and the sunlight just pours in. It's still quite bright in here and it's nearly 9pm. It's amazing how oppressing the rule that prohibited me from opening the blinds to let natural light in became. In three short days, we have had more people walk through our front door than we had in the entire six plus months at the last place.
I realize that the last apartment, transitional housing, kept me feeling homeless. It was a place to live, but it didn't feel like it was ours, at all, even though we paid to live there, and it certainly didn't feel like home. While my friend was overwhelmingly gracious to allow us to stay with her for two months, that wasn't our home either. It was hers. For nearly a year, we've been at least somewhat displaced.
But now, we are home. This feels like home.
Last night, I sat with the boys after the littlest went to bed, and I whispered, "welcome home, buddy." I received the biggest grin in response.
I guess this feels like home to all of us.