As I went for my Sunday morning run, I imagined what might be waiting for me when I returned to my mother's house. Would I be greeted by the smell of hot coffee, or maybe an omelet and some fresh biscuits? Truth be told, my mother hated cooking, but breakfast was her thing, and so was taking care of her family. She always made me breakfast when I visited.
But this wasn't what greeted me. Instead, the house was quiet. Furniture ready to be moved was strewn haphazardly throughout the living room. Packing tape, bags and boxes lined the counters in the kitchen. There was no coffee, in fact, no food at all in the kitchen. The refrigerator was bare except for a few drinks and a lone takeout container.
The reason? Madeline doesn't live here anymore. I have slowly been dismantling her house, her life, one small piece at a time. Each day. it becomes less and less her house as drawers and closets are now empty and the walls stand bare. I close my eyes and try to remember festive Christmas celebrations in between these walls. I picture my children crawling up the steps. I recall visits home from college and in my 20s when I was so happy to have a warm bed, a place to do laundry and a hot breakfast waiting for me.
I remember my teenager self, full of angst, lounging on the couch watching television and ignoring my mother.
But in a few days I will lock the door forever and another family will begin the process of making their own memories within these walls. Never one good with major transitions, I am preparing myself for this moment. While I know that my mother is not here in this house, it is still very difficult to say goodbye to 30 years of memories.
I have packed many boxes with special pieces of my mother's life that will continue to remind me of her. I will unpack them slowly when I get home, savoring the moment, taking in the significance of each item. Hopefully, when it is all done, I can wear one of her rings, look at one of her paintings or light one of her candles and it will always remind me of her. That's how she will continue to live on in our lives with constant daily reminders like these.
For now, the physical place is still my touchstone to my mother. The last place that I can find her, even amongst the boxes and packing tape. But when I close that door for the last time and get in my car to drive back to North Carolina, I only hope that she will come with me ...
Amanda is a mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.