It was the hand writing that set me off. A simple R written on a jewellery box built for a solitary ring. I found it while doing the final packing up of my house today before I soon begin a writing sabbatical overseas.
The R is for Rachael and the handwriting is my mother’s. My father told me she had sat at the kitchen table just days before she collapsed and died marking her jewellery with single letters to signify myself and my sisters.
Hand writing is like smell with the power to transport your memory bank in an instant. You see it and you think the person must still be there. Then you remember they are not. So you imagine them at their kitchen table knowing time on this planet is no longer in their favour but still thinking about those they are leaving behind. You picture them writing R on a box with a shaky hand and your heart breaks just a little bit more.
Moving wasn’t supposed to be like this. Tomorrow I will be homeless by choice, my entire life packed up into a few boxes and a couple of suitcases after cleansing myself of my ‘stuff’. Moving out was supposed to feel liberating.
But there lies the problem, placing expectations upon moments you simply can’t control doesn’t allow for what comes up. As my mother always said you don’t always get what you think you want.
So instead I just feel plain old vulnerable but at least I feel something and as they say, this too will pass.
I have either made the best decision of my life or the craziest decision of my life. But no one can tell me I am not alive when I can feel the boulder pushing against my chest and my skin peeled back as I type. Once upon a time I would have run to the mall with a credit card I couldn’t afford or hit the donut bar in dark glasses or spent five hours at the gym or danced on tables after a gazillion shots and then some, anything but feel this.
I can’t even crawl onto my favourite couch and watch a movie on Apple TV because I have sold both. In fact I have sold all my comforts or given them away and all that’s left to make me feel ok is me.
This house I am leaving has been good to more than just I. For every tear that has been shed through romantic heart break, friends deaths and a mother’s demise there have been a thousand more guffaws, shrieks, chuckles, roars and snorts of serious laughter.
We’ve danced on the deck under the stars with the sound of the sea, thrown ourselves into that same ocean the day after to clear the cobwebs, got our hands dirty planting life into pots, guzzled champagne, cocktails, wine and copious pots of tea.
Four whales breached in the waters for over an hour one day in October and dolphins surfed the waves year round. Then one weekend in May last year my mother’s frail body managed to make it up the stairs to spend a weekend reading in the sun with her husband by her side.
So many people passed through these doors seeking sanctuary from urban life and returning home revived. The House of the Healing Heart (as it was dubbed) was always true to it’s promise.
The HOTHH saw me through one major relationship break down, two deaths, the impact of two suicides and the death of my mum. It also saw my friends through holiday breaks, Olympic preparations, cancer, career burnout, pre wedding preparations, relationship highs, relationship lows and everything good and great that life has to offer.
In honour of that I have compiled some HOTHH highlights.
- An hour after the man I moved into the house with left that same house for good I stood on the back deck with a dear friend, Caroline, and we watched four whales breech for almost an hour.
- Dancing in the rain at 1.00am on Boxing Day after drinking the Christmas bar dry
- Anna emptying the dishwasher of dirty dishes and putting them in the cupboards and filling it with clean dishes after also drinking that Christmas bar dry (we found dirty dishes for months)
- Sunday night dinners with Jane, Rob, Francis and Anna and ‘the golden bowl of enlightenment/bullshit’ (single words pulled out of the bowl for the week ahead)
- The canines – Annie Oakley, Daisy, Dotty, Gypsy, India, Mambo, Sunny, Tubby Pants and Ron, Ron, Ron
- Ron the Ridgeback, formerly known as Cabron, renamed Ron by me and brought into my life for just a season the week my mother died
- Gratitude high tea with twenty chicks on a sun lit afternoon, laughs and pass the gratitude parcel
- The organic basil on Triffid like steroids that refused to stop growing and shared it’s flavour around Avalon
- Boxing Day, we’ll always have Boxing Day. A tradition started in Cremorne Point, continued in Mosman and re-ignited in Avalon.
- My mother sitting on the back deck with a book while I served her breakfast
The sanctuary has now been deconstructed and the house returned to the blank canvas from which I first found it two years ago.
My heart especially hurts today but I know it’s no longer broken. I can thank the house and those who came through it for that.