You know that saying, “Home is where the heart is”? Well, I find that to be particularly true.
I went home this week for Thanksgiving break, but that’s not all. For the first time, I visited my best friend. Not in the usual way that most college students would. No. I went to a cemetery, looked down at the newly placed stone and hoped that she could hear all the words that filled my head. Words about my college experience and simply put everything that I haven’t told her already. Words that I had waited to tell her and words that I wish I knew how to say. While I stood there, I wondered all of the same questions that I had a million times before but no answers came to surface.
Then, I remembered the day. I visualized me walking up to the door to realize she had already come in. I saw her small little dance that she did. Then we walked to the living room and I turned on Glee, the show we had been watching together. We talked forever, not even really paying any attention to the show in the background. We had seen it a million times already. We joked and laughed all day. Not only do I remember what we did that day, I also remember how I was feeling. It was overwhelming happiness. For lack of a better way to put it, I was home. I was with my best friend whom I loved and who made me happy. My heart was whole. I had no worries. I was not stressed. I was carefree. I was happy. I was home. As the day went on, I remember feeling a bit of dread because I knew she would have to go back to her house soon and I simply put didn’t want her to go. After she left, it would just go back to being a random, boring day.
Standing at her grave, all of those feelings rushed back to me. The readiness to see her. Not necessarily happy, but whole. It was the first time since the accident that I had felt still. Not still in the frozen kind of way, but steady. As I stood there, my whole existence was unraveling before me. I wasn’t torn in two. I was just there looking at the stone that sat above where my best friend lies permanently. For the first time, I wasn’t unsteady. My mind wasn’t racing with a million thoughts. My heart ached no longer because I was there. I was with her even though she wasn’t physically there. I was there and this was where her body lied and for me that was enough. It wasn’t like last time when I watched her lowered to the ground. My heart aching. No more tears left to be shed. It wasn’t like that. I was just visiting a friend. I was visiting my best friend. My best friend took up most of my heart. I loved her and I lost her. As I remembered her laughter and jokes standing there, I realized that I had lost my home. My safe place. But in a way it was all around me as I stood there. My mom standing beside me still supporting me through everything, just as my best friend would have.
Then I realized something else. Just like the saying previously mentioned, no matter where I am–big city or small town that no one has ever heard of–I will always have a piece of me that is home. Because that’s where she is. And that is also where my family will remain. And they are my safe places. They are what take up the space in my heart and that’s how it always will be.
Beginning in November, we would hop into my grandma’s car only to hear Christmas music coming from the speakers. Now at that time my siblings and I looked at each other with a smirk. However, we would sit in the car those mornings and just absorb the music playing because my grandmother enjoyed it and we were too tired to even say anything. One time each year when we thought to, we would always ask, “Christmas music before Thanksgiving?” This would encourage her to say the words, “It’s never too early for Christmas music.” This was one of her favorite times of year, especially when Christmas music was involved.
Looking back on moments such as these just days before Thanksgiving, caused me to wonder what it would be like this year. The first year without her being here to celebrate with us. Will we continue to do our baking ritual? Or will that falter away just like she did? Where will we meet? Will it be all of us or just some of us? She had a way of holding the family together even if part of us were fighting with the others. Will the Christmas music continue? What now?
However, as it is Thanksgiving day, I see that not much has changed. To start off with, it was a little bland. Though that changed pretty quickly. My mom put my sister and I in charge of baking a various number of cookies. Then about halfway into it she decided to find a Christmas music station. “This is more grandma’s style,” she said as she went back to the sink to start washing more dishes. As soon as the music came on, my sister starting dancing around the kitchen and my mom started singing. This brought me back to a moment that we shared with my grandma. Christmas music playing softly throughout the house while my sister and I are rolling the cookie dough and my grandma at the sink and setting up what we are supposed to bake next. I watched my sister sneak some powdered sugar from the bowl like she used to with my grandma. I also freely went for the cookie dough because that’s my favorite part. Mom also took the position and sang along to the music. So with all of that going on, it was like she was still with us even though she wasn’t. We were keeping her memory alive, smiling and laughing all the way.
So with that Thanksgiving and any other big holiday will be fine. There will be memories all around that relate to her. Maybe it won’t exactly be the same because we won’t have her there physically, but she will always be there through memories that we shared. For as long as we celebrate, pieces of her will still remain. So we will continue to celebrate.
A place where I used to spend most of my childhood summers. It used to be connected to a pool.
Swing set that my siblings and I used to play on. It is now moved away from the spot it once was close to the woods.
Basketball goal that my siblings and I used to shoot with. Now it is in pieces.
Vines growing up an old horse fence and stuff stored in the barn.
An old car just gathering leaves, not bothered in being used.
This old stable used to hold my grandfather’s horses. Now, it’s full of grass that probably reaches my height.
A pond that dried up after the hurricane.
Carnations weathered away after the storm
Each of these pictures exhibit things that have lost their purpose or their purpose was used for something else. These things exhibit the action of moving on from things–of letting go. What more is there to explain than that?