One of the hardest things about moving is the leaving behind of memories connected to the house, and that is harder still when you have lost someone. Amongst the packing of real objects I struggled to find time and emotional energy to pack the memories…
My mum and dad have come to the new house. I have to explain that there is no gas or electricity. We’re inbetween their supply and ours. My Mum seems concerned, but not overly so. We stand together at the window and look out at the amazing view. Just as we did in the house I grew up in. She always told me views mattered most in houses, she loved seeing the hills.
The new house is not quite as I remember it, it is taller, the ceilings higher, a hybrid of our new house and the home I grew up in perhaps, but the view is the same, the feeling of the house in its space. It will do I think. She can at least see it. She knows where I am. I stand on the kitchen table to get a better view of the hills outside, Mum does too, my Dad looks at me strangely.
Then I must go and find things, there is so much to do. My parents go first. I put on my crash helmet and begin to crawl into the next room, and the next, and the next. I want to take the helmet off because it is slowing my down. My parents are ahead now and the rooms are becoming more like corridors. I press buttons and wait for lift doors to open, I am alone again I realise.
The corridors are white and shiny now, like an art gallery, covered in paintings. I don’t feel claustrophobic because I can sense where I am going, I can look down as if watching myself in a maze. Which is lucky as I can see Donald Trump* is round the next corner and I am keen to avoid him.
Then I am awake, with tears in my eyes.
I hold onto the moments with my Mum in my dreams, she is so alive again, so exactly herself. And I realise the significance, my exhausted, emotional brain has taken her to the new house. To bring me some peace. Before we move. She has seen it. She can find it. She knows the plan. Stupid thoughts from someone who doesn’t believe in life after death. But one of the most primitive concerns about moving is that all the connections and memories of her sharing our living space will be gone.
I feel relived my mind is making new ones.
Days later, on our moving day we move I whisper goodbye to the apple tree we planted together, in the months between brain tumours, when we knew the cancer was terminal, but she was still able to have some semblance of normality.
One of the last things I find in the old house is a branch from the edge of the Peak District, where her ashes are scattered. The hill she could see from the windows of our house. Knowing I have already packed another such twig and will collect more next time I visit, I place it under the apple tree in our old garden. It is one of those moments when, after wracking my brains for weeks for a suitable rite of passage to see me through the transition, a small gesture suddenly appears that makes complete sense.
Soon after we moved to our new house a large parcel appeared, inside was a little nut tree. From two of my favourite nuts, Annie and Tanya, who saw me saying goodbye to the apple tree on my instagram stories and sent a tree for the new house. People have always got your back, which is why sharing your feelings about bereavement is such a powerful thing.
Mum’s picture hangs in the new house now too, smiling at me at the bottom of the stairs each time I trek up and down to collect bedtime drinks or return my night owl youngest to bed. When my youngest can’t sleep, I do the relaxation exercise she taught me.
This weekend my nephew told me he dreamt of our new house with a rainbow for stairs, and my friend who was staying here also dreamt of my Mum.
Her little legacies live on.
Read other posts with a Little Legacy theme.
* I presume Donald Trump was in my dream because during our sale, the previous owners had to erect a wall across the kitchen in order to get round building regulations for the extension. In my tired mind it got mixed up with Trump’s threats for a wall across the border with Mexico.