After my dad died in 2000, I remember my mom renovating her home. She had new floors put in, purchased new bedding, repainted her kitchen, and even changed what was the living room (his favorite room and where he passed away) into a different dining space and made the formal living room her new regular space. I remember her telling me then that she HAD to make this change. She NEEDED these changes to remain in that house and move forward with her new life.
I don't know that I fully understood her strong desire for these changes until recently. Now that I am faced with 16 years of memories around every corner, I feel it. While it is stressful that I'm in this big house (dear lord 3300 sq feet is A LOT of house for one person to keep up with, especially with Miss Destructive Baby), I'm starting to be a bit more grateful that he left me in the house we've only lived in for months and not years. The other house was more manageable, yes, and cheaper, but it was also full of memories. I brought all three of my babies home to that house. We had it built, picking out every detail together and coming throughout the construction to see the progress. We were so young when we built it and I worked a second job at Outback Steakhouse to help us with the cost. I painted every room and he did a ton of handiwork, including all the tile and laminate flooring. I don't have nine years of happiness living in that home staring at me daily. I have a house he lived in from December--first of April. It's a lot of work, but there are a lot less ghosts.
However, I feel the need to make the changes. With the exception of one picture of us with Allie and two of us with Maggie as a baby that Maggie has requested in her bedroom, all pictures that included Andrew have been put in a closet. My wedding photos, our trips together (cruise picture, us in front of the Eiffel Tower), and ones of us as teenagers (prom, high school graduation, silly one of us peeking out through streamers) have all gone to the guestroom closet. Any photo I thought he would want of the kids and him, his family, him as a child, etc I packed up for him and gave to him last week. Packing up the things he didn't take when he moved could be an entirely different blog post--how I held it together sorting through most things but lost it when I found his favorite childhood costume, a NASA suite that was the source of many family jokes.
Heroes for Children got me a beautiful gift of a large frame that people signed at my going away party with a collage of photos from the evening. I lovingly took down the huge photo of us with Allie (me kissing the top of her head while he kissed the top of mine) and replaced it with this new photo. With a large empty gameroom of missing furniture and his big TV, I turned it into a fun kids playroom for the girls. They love it. I miss having the second living room that I could retire to after the girls go to bed (living room is right off the bedroom hallway and when I try to watch TV there, Maggie sits on her bed and yells to me about things!), but I'm adjusting to having this fun new space for the girls to play.
My bedroom is currently undergoing the biggest transformation. I purchased new bedding and pictures for above the bed. I'm finishing painting the room today a pretty blue/grey color. Tracey described it best as a pewter. I'm making the room MINE. The bedroom furniture is what we purchased together as a big Christmas/birthdays/Valentine's gift to ourselves I think back in 2005 or so, but everything else will be mine. Picked out by me. The bedding is beautiful (thank you, Target!), delicate, and slightly feminine. My mom is helping me with painting and playing with kids while I do it. Maggie has declared she and I a team and has even helped in the painting process too. Read--more work but it makes her happy. Read also--MOM GUILT in a major way and I will let her do most things to make her happy.
The room will be completed tomorrow. I've made friends with the young neighbors across the street--four roommates renting from a relative of one of theirs, two boys and two girls in their early twenties--and had the guys help me and mom move furniture yesterday. They said they can come tomorrow morning and move it back in place for me. Given that I can't do it myself, I will happily wait until tomorrow. I can't wait for it to be finished. I can't promise that I will post pictures of the room. I may want to safeguard that and keep it private. Who knows though. I might be so damn excited that I post it and want to show off. We'll see.
Making these changes in the home and my life (separate blog post coming about my new size and new found confidence because of it) helps significantly as I navigate this transition. This summer is all about transformation. Everything is changing. Some things are out of my control and some I can do something about. Maybe that is why I love painting my room and redecorating it so much--it is completely within my control. Maybe I needed to regain at least a little control to keep me pointed in the right direction.