I sat on the bottom step in my living room last week, looking around at my-house-that-wasn’t-really-my-house anymore. The U-haul was parked at the end of the driveway, filled with every earthly possession my husband and I own. Everything had been packed. Every surface had been cleaned. There was nothing left to do but wait for the closing.
As I sat there, memories of the past decade flashed through my mind. I knew it was time to leave my condo and move into our new home—the first place my husband and I picked out together. But a wave of nostalgia swept over me now that it was time to say good-bye to this place—this place that had played such a significant part in my story.
I longed for some way to mark the moment, for some tangible closure, but I wasn’t sure what that would even look like. How do you say good-bye to a place that had been the staging ground for so much life?
I tried to imagine handing over the keys to my home of eleven years. I didn’t know much about the buyer—only that her name was Veronica, and what her signature looked like. Then the thought came to me, out of the blue: write her a note.
I hesitated, certain she’d think I was crazy. Then again, I’d never have to see her again, right? So I pulled out a yellow pad of paper and a blue felt-tip marker—the only writing implements I could find that weren’t packed away.
Welcome home! I bought this condo when I was twenty-five, wide-eyed and terrified by the ream of papers I was signing without really understanding all the fine print. I was doing this on my own, and I never imagined I’d buy a place by myself. But it turned out to be the perfect spot for me—home to fondue parties with friends, Easter brunches with family crammed into the living room, and slumber parties with my sister. This is where I grew brave and grew up. It’s where I learned to paint a room and cook a lasagna and plant tulip bulbs.
And then something unexpected and delightful happened—I got married, and my husband moved in, along with his three bikes, four guitars, and a dozen houseplants. It’s the place we came back to after our honeymoon, the first home we lived in together. The walls are filled with four years of laughter and words and music, with growing pains and good memories from our newlywed days.
I heard someone say once that your home is a character in your story, and I think that’s true. I don’t know how long you’ll stay here or how your story will unfold, but I pray that this home will be a wonderful character in the story of your life too.
So here’s my benediction, over you and this house: May God bless each moment you spend here, and may he bless each person who walks through these doors.
Then I put the yellow sheet on the counter, right under the spare set of keys, feeling relieved that she wouldn’t read this note until she moved in and I was several cities away.
What I failed to account for was that the walk-through. Meaning she read the note right before I saw her at the closing.
When I entered the huge conference room, I realized my tactical error immediately. I also realized that this was not the place for sappy notes. The room was filled with serious-faced lawyers and professional-looking loan officers and a bunch of other people who looked distinctly unsentimental.
But then I saw Veronica hanging back, motioning for me to come closer. She looked just as wide-eyed as I’d been in her shoes eleven years ago. “Thanks for the note,” she whispered. And I saw that her eyes were brimming with tears.
“Congratulations,” I whispered back.
As I learned in snippets during our paper-signing marathon, she was me—a decade ago. Twenty-five. Single. An eighth-grade teacher.
At the end of the closing, I handed her the keys, and I sensed that something inside me had settled. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, and then it hit me: closure. This was full circle—the closing of a chapter for me as a new one started for her.
I smiled at her and then took Daniel’s hand. It was time to introduce ourselves to the new character in our story.
Happy house to you, Veronica. Happy house.
Beautifully written!!! <3
Linda M says
Stephanie, this is so beautiful. I LOVE that you wrote her a note. I will do that every time I leave a house in the future. And you know I’m a bit of a sucker for houses. 😉
Amy wildman says
I love the fact that you wrote the letter to your new homeowner. What a gift and encouragement that must have been for her.
Christine Danielson says
Such a thoughtful thing to do for the new homeowner! Congrats on your new home!
I hope she frames it!
What a great reminder that one of the only constant things in our life is change. It is how we face it that is the challange. Thanks for the insight.
Love this post! Love your note even more. Very brave! I hope you cling to the feeling you got when you saw her face…confirmation! In your obedience, you wrote the words and you were so bold in the two things that matter: loving God and loving people. No matter what her faith is, she probably won’t forget you and how you pointed to God’s provision for her. 🙂
Sarah Parisi says
I completely agree that our homes are characters is our stories and serve as important “staging ground” for our lies. Beautiful post, Stephanie!
Joani Heavey says
I enjoyed your thoughts about saying goodbye to your house.
I have lived in several homes but the one I remember especially well was the one I grew up in, my parents home. Just recently my folks both passed away and I had to empty, clean and sell that home. Wow! That was an amazing experience and God gave me the strength and courage to do it, to say good bye to that “character” from my childhood.
I, too, thought about the new people, the young couple with their two year old son, moving into my old home. I was sad for me and excited for them all at the same time. It helped me to grieve, process, and let go as I made a binder with pictures of our house from 1959 and all the stages it went through over the 54 years. It was fun to reminisce as I remembered the cars pictured in the old photos and the opportunities for family time as we helped my dad built half of that house.
Time to move on and let that “character” become part of someone else’s story. I have another character in my life, one I have been in since 1983, and it’s been a blast to create facelift after facelift on the place we raised our boys and now enjoy with our children and four grandchildren.
Time moves so quickly but how amazing to know we will see our loved ones in our eternal Home.
Joani Heavey, friend of Brooke ☺️
Joani, thank you for sharing your wonderful story! What a gift for you to pass on the legacy of your parents’ home to that new family. Blessings to you!