Dear Home, I miss you. I miss what you used to give me: shelter, warmth, and security. I miss running up and down your steps—taking the stairs two at a time and always jumping down from three up (much to the chagrin of Grandma C.). I miss those warm days when we left your door to the backyard open like an invitation. That backyard was my clubhouse, playground, and treasure hunt. It’s where I learned to ride my bike and where we buried our dogs.
Dearest Home, oh how you’ve changed! I didn’t realize how much of your essence was due more to your inhabitants than your contents or your architecture. You were warm not just because the boiler had oil, but because mom was there—cooking and filling us with love. You were safe, not because we ever baby proofed when my siblings were born—we didn’t—but because Dad made sure of it (even if that meant being overprotective). You were comfortable not because of the well-worn furniture, but because we all got along. You were beautiful, not because you were perfect—far from it, in fact—but because you were our own.
Oh Home, you are a miracle and a blessing. My parents could never have afforded you if not for divine provision. You would never have become ours if not for a kind older woman with a bad hip who needed to move to a home without stairs, but who also wanted to help a young immigrant family put down real roots, especially since they’d been so attentive and kind—shoveling her patch of sidewalk, paying her mind, giving her quality time. She would sell you to my parents directly for much less than market value—no mortgage required, just many years of faithful payments to her and then (once she’d passed) her heirs. Her selling you to us was a gift, giving my parents freedom from the worry that their rent might become too expensive. It was because of kindness flowing two ways that you became “Home” to us, home base, our place.
Home, sweet Home, I am sorry that I couldn’t protect you the way you sheltered us for so long. I was at times too young to know or to poor to afford what you needed. It pains me to see your dislocated windows, crinkled awning, and your broken basement door. I shed tears when I knew your roof was leaking with each rainfall. (I’m glad to not have cause to shed those tears anymore.) Your gutted basement guts me. It used to be a portal to so many memories. You need repairs, renovations, and restorations. You need work in every room. You need love and attention and the money to put skilled hands to the job. I pray I’ll see you get them all.
Home of my childhood, I hope you remain in our family indefinitely and that we can restore you to your former glory—or at least make you safe and whole. But if not, please know that I am grateful to you for all you gave us and all you held for us—the family meals and memories, laughter, and love. You housed so much of all that was good in my childhood. And for that, I thank you very much.