Not too long ago I revisited a house that was once my home. Stepping upon the property of an address I had written hundreds of times, I couldn’t help but feel a mixture of happiness, sadness and loneliness. Fresh flowers bloomed in the front yard; orange and red, flowers I didn’t purchase nor plant. Yet, their blooms were shaded by the old tree my husband and I planted. Our kids nicknamed this tree “Pancake” because it is a maple tree. To this new family, they see something that came with the house. To me, when I look at Pancake, I see sweat, laughter, and family… my family.
As I made the familiar walk up the front driveway, my heart unexpectedly resurfaced footprints. I could feel the memory of someone sauntering upon this same concrete slope wearing heels to sneakers, boots to bare feet. I loved her dearly while I lived in this home… while she lived here on earth. I still love her. And while she changed her address to heaven, I remained missing her in this home.
Call me silly and foolish, but I recall feeling slightly guilty when we moved. I secretly felt as if I was releasing yet another part of her: tangible triggers that had become like a rolling photo album I could turn to whenever I missed her. The snapshot of the way she preferred to sit on top of my kitchen table rather than in a chair. The many times we laughed so hard I thought for certain the neighbors could hear us. And the gifts, little things, from her which meant nothing to anyone but me… significant because they showed she had taken the time to know me, like me, and love me. And, oh God, isn’t that the best of feelings – to be known, to be liked, and to be loved.
Yes, this new family sees a house with a fresh coat of paint and new light fixtures. I see the spot where I positioned my kitchen table. I see the walls holding my sweet friend’s laughter.
It has been almost two years since we moved. We love our community and our new home. But the funny thing about memories is that although they may fade, tangible triggers may be removed, and new relationships might be formed, their presence still makes you wish for that person. Yes, memories still make me want to share my todays with her.
I guess the real beauty is acknowledging that I did have that person for as little as a single breath in time and as long as countless walks up to my old doorstep. How thankful I am to feel the mixture of happiness, sadness, and loneliness because that means I experienced the depth and width of the time we were given to share.
I have taken her with me in my heart to my new address. She silently comes to mind when I hear others say something similar to what she would have said, or when I see something that I know she would like. Those inside jokes… they are lost to everyone but she and I, aren’t they? But that’s not entirely true. She isn’t lost. I hate when people say, “I’m sorry for your loss.” I have not misplaced her. I know exactly where you are, my dear friend. Hug Jesus for me, please.
I keep our friendship alive by honoring her life and by continuing with mine. Making new friendships often feels like dating. In truth, it can be too time-consuming and too much of an investment. That is until I remember our friendship and thank God we both chose to take the time and make the investment many, many years ago.
I still have a lot to learn, but as I revisit the old and move forward in the present, I am continually thankful for both the familiar and the unknown adventure. Yes, both keep me grounded. Both keep me “faithed-up” on Jesus. And both sharpen my focus to my eternal home with family and friends.
Emotions are short-term companions; whereas, love is a forever, active relationship.
May we enjoy those who take a walk upon our drive. May we slow down and acknowledge both the singular breaths of time and the peace found within eternity. Just as the old maple tree continues to give and to grow, may we honor those we love by being a friend to our memories and a friend to our future.
Thank You, Jesus, for both the depth and the width of time you give to each of us.
SGLY, dear reader.
(Smile, God Loves You.)
Tiffany Kaye Chartier is a Christian author and opinion columnist. Submit feedback and connect for more soul lifts on Facebook: Tiffany Kaye Chartier, Instagram: @tiffanysgly, and Twitter: @tiffanychartier.