the little white house

Shortly before T went away, he was trying very hard to talk with me about how it would be while he was gone. Like a stubborn small child I put my foot down, hid my eyes behind my baseball cap and refused to hear anything about it.

That conversation wasn’t for me–not at that time.

I remember T made a specific comment about it all. He thought this thing with him most likely felt like a repetition of what happened all those years ago with my grandfather. Instantly I could feel my skin prickle and from a very little place I whispered ‘you aren’t allowed to talk about him‘. T sat back in his chair and I heard him sigh. ‘I’m not allowed to talk about him?‘ T questioned softly. I shook my head no. ‘It maybe wouldn’t hurt so much if we could just talk about him‘ T said. I shook my head no. I think he wanted to, but didn’t push any further.

The other day after I fired off my less than stellar text message, in one of his responses he mentioned my grandfather again. It stopped me in my tracks. The only word I could think of was ‘ouch‘. It felt rough and raw and it hurt right down to my core. I wanted to write back and tell T he wasn’t allowed to talk about him but I didn’t because the only thing I could think of saying was ‘ouch‘.

I have always found that there are certain things I can and can’t cry about in therapy. My grandfather has always been the one that I can’t. Not because I can’t cry about him. Rather, it’s the opposite. I am afraid of becoming so overwhelmed with it that I fear it will consume me. So whenever T mentions him, I need to move away from it a little bit. I push it away so that it’s there but not there, you know.

I think a part of us always dies with the death of another. Perhaps a very tiny part of us dies with a death even if we did not know the other. If one dies we all die. At least a little. When he died it he was there and then he wasn’t–I saw him one day and the next day he was gone. And nothing felt okay anymore. Nothing felt safe anymore. Nothing felt as it had before.

That’s exactly how it felt when T went away.

How do you remember people? I have a hard time remembering people when they aren’t right in front of my face. For me, sometimes I need to be in a place or see a place I’ve been before in order to remember.

That’s where the title of this post about the little white house comes in.

Out on the highway, as you are driving out of town, sits a little white house with black shutters and big maple trees in the yard. It’s not a big house but it holds big and important memories for me.

Whenever I drive past it, I can see myself going up the back steps and into the porch. There is a small kitchen with a gas stove. The oven is always on and freshly baked pies (apple, raisin, rhubarb) are in the porch cooling down. Off of the kitchen is one of the tiny bedrooms. From the kitchen you can see the small living room, bathroom and the second bedroom. There is a couch, two chairs and a footstool. The chair on the left belongs to him. If I try hard enough I can sometimes remember him sitting there. If it’s a really good day, I can even hear his voice and feel the soft flannel from his shirt against my face.

It was where I learned to climb trees, ran free and had the only sense of safety in my life. There was nobody who could hurt me there. After he died, my grandmother lived there until she died and then the little white house was sold. While it was no longer part of our family I could still drive by it, and the memories would come back and it would feel okay, even if just for a little bit.

I hadn’t been by it for awhile but last night I was going out with some friends and had to drive past it. As I came up to the little white house I was absolutely horrified. Great big holes were in the side of it and you could see right through it. There were no windows or walls. There were no back stairs or porch. The black shutter were gone.

The little white house was being torn down. In some ways it felt like I was being torn down.

I still went out with my friends, put on a brave face and tried to have some fun, but all I could think of was it. Afterwards, when I climbed into bed and it was only me in the darkness of night, I cried myself to sleep.

I know it’s just a stupid house but it feels like so much more than that. I always had it to bring me back to the times of my grandfather. Will I still be able to remember him without it, I wonder?

No T.

No grandfather.

No little white house.

The world does not feel safe at all.

2 thoughts on “the little white house

  1. Pingback: how is it only Thursday? | This Takes Courage

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