Staring at a House that used to be Yours

January 19, 2022

The car is parked and I’m crying, emotional to the sight before me. I’m sitting inside a still car, one that sits in front of a house that used to be ours. A house that holds decades of memories and decades of love. A house that was more than a house, it was a home. It was my mother’s home, which made it all of ours too. It was special, a place I knew inside and out.

The yard is different and I can tell from the window shades everything inside is different too. I imagine how the new owners have made it theirs, which means slowly erasing the way that it was ours. The front yard is different and so is the garden. The entrance is different and so is this view. While this place feels so familiar it also feels so foreign too. It’s odd sitting here staring at a house that used to be ours. 

I miss this house, this place, this space that was simultaneously hers and ours. I miss the feeling I would get walking in the door. I miss the smells that would spill out from the kitchen. I miss the backyard barbecues and the way the neighbors would wave from afar. I miss the way this house felt like a refuge from the world and the way it always welcomed us, no matter how long it had been since we’d been here last. Now, I sit here a stranger to this place, staring at a house that’s no longer ours. 

I know that most of all I miss my mother, but in missing her I miss all the pieces of her too, including this old and sacred place. I miss the way she made it hers. The way it always encompassed love and adoration. They way it looked and smelled and felt like her and her love. I miss the way she looked in each room of this space. I miss the way her voice would echo off the walls as she called our names. 

I miss the way she’d place things on the stairs for us to carry up, only to be annoyed when we failed to do so. I miss the way it was covered in photos of our childhood, especially the embarrassing ones she loved so much. I miss the way it felt to go inside, knowing it would be filled with her and others that I loved. Now, it’s empty of those things. Now, it’s simply a house that used to be ours. 

When you lose someone you love, you don’t lose only them. You lose so many other things as well- some small, some large, all significant. Sometimes you lose a person and a place. Sometimes you lose the one who felt like home and the place you call home, all at the same time. Sometimes you find yourself staring at a house that used to be yours. 

Sometimes, you stare at a house and it hurts. It reminds you of the past, one that was filled with someone unforgettable. It reminds you of the way things were, before pain and grief. 

Sometimes you find yourself staring at a house that used to be yours and you feel lost and broken. You feel overcome by grief. You feel overwhelmed by longing. You stare at a place that is no longer yours while silently wishing it still was because if it was it would mean she was still here and it’s still hers too. 

Sometimes you find yourself staring at a house that used to be yours and you realize the magnitude of grief and missing a place and a person all at the same time. 

xox, Chels

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Chelsea Ohlemiller

Chelsea Ohlemiller

A thirty-something wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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