I called up the realtor to officially put our house on the market. She had helped us find the house 3.5 years earlier, so it was nice to be able to call her up and ask for her help again. We caught up on why we are selling and then the question came.
You don’t have any kids, right?
Well, yes, we have one, but she passed away in November.
Oh my, I am so sorry! …I am so sorry… I… I don’t know what to say..
Yeah, that tends to happen.
I really don’t know what to say. I’m sorry, I will see you this evening, and we can fill out the paperwork. Okay? See you then. Bye!
*Heavy sigh, dials realtor in new town*
I received a recommendation for an excellent realtor to help us in our new home search, and she has been very kind and helpful so far. But again, the initial phone call and feeling out what we were looking for inevitably led to the question.
Do you have any kids?
Yes, but she passed away in November, so it will just be my husband and me.
Oh, I’m so sorry. So are you looking for a specfic area?
*Shakes head and continues conversation as if nothing happened like usual*
So we’ve started the process of moving. Our house is listed; we are searching for a new home in a new town. The logical explanation of our move is that we both got new jobs and we had been planning to move to cut out our commute. We had been planning to move before Ava died. So when people ask, we say to cut down our commute now that we both work in the same town. That’s what we say, but honestly, I’m not sure that’s exactly why anymore.
When we decided we needed to move when I was pregnant, we had a sense of urgency to our move. We had a goal to move before I would return to work in June – we had already embarked on remodeling our master bathroom, so we needed to finish it first.
When Ava died, our sense of urgency to move was displaced immediately with numbness, shock, and a fog that made trying to get anything done a monumental task. We muddled through those early days and eventually got back to our bathroom remodel, little by little. It was a feat to accomplish this project before, and in the aftermath of loss, in a foggy, depressed state, it didn’t seem doable at first. Slowly, the fog lifted some, and I think it helped to have something to work on together and focus on that wasn’t depressing.
Slowly, as the fog lifted, the urgency to move returned. Instead of needing to move to be settled with a baby, an urgency of a kind that I can’t point to as a reason for wanting to move as soon as possible emerged. Before Ava died, everyone understood that we would want to move before the baby arrived, or at least before I returned to work. Duh, it makes sense not wanting to commute with a baby. Now, I stick with the cutting out the commute excuse because, yeah, it’s understandable, and, honestly, doesn’t lead to awkward silences.
In reality, yes, we want to cut out our commute, but more importantly, to me anyway, is the strong need to get out of the house where Ava died. Out of the town soaked in memories of running into people I know, both glowing with expectant motherhood, and in the sweatpants of grief. Away from the empty-looking nursery that is brimming with haunting what-ifs.
I need to move, and yes, I’m running away. I think that is perfectly fine, though. I need a fresh start and new memories that aren’t saturated with my tears. I know our future experiences will already be colored by Ava’s death no matter where we are or what we do. I know that, and I don’t necessarily want to run away from that. I just feel that a new canvas to paint on would be nice. Sure, some of the paints with be the hue of loss, and they will all swirl together, but I would have some level of control.
I’m running away, but that doesn’t mean I’m not holding on. I’m holding on to my love for Ava. I’m holding on to her memory box, and looking for homes that have a perfect spot to hang her painting. I’m holding on to keeping her memory alive as we make new memories in a new home. I’m holding on dearly to the only pictures we have of Ava, and searching for a home where I can hang our favorites. I’m searching for a backyard that has shade to plant our Ava tree. I’m searching for a home with room for a little shelf for her tiny urn.
When I reject a perfectly fine home our realtor shows us, I can’t dive into all those qualifiers I listed above. So maybe the running away is easier to explain.
I need to run away.
But, I’m holding on tight.
No matter where we move, I’m holding on to Ava in my heart and always will.