Recently I was speaking with the realtor who has the listing for selling my family home. It’s been several years since my parents passed away, but I have clung to the house like a lifeline in a turbulent sea. Going over a few administrative details, we discussed what to do about exterior maintenance in the coming months. She suggested I remove a few pieces of outdoor paraphernalia that had remained behind after I moved out the furniture and interior belongings. ”You want to give the impression that you are done with the house” she said to me.
The sentence stabbed me, almost taking my breath away. I know what she means: I need to give the impression the house is a blank canvas, ready to be painted by a new artist, but I just can’t bring myself to commit to being done with it. I keep postponing a trip to tie up loose ends; I imagine creating a social media platform to market the house myself, but despite hours on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest, I never strike the keys that will take me to that place.
I’m not ready to give the impression the house is anything other than MY home. I know this is why the house hasn’t sold. It may be empty; it may look like it’s for sale; it’s even listed for sale, but energetically the bond between the house and me isn’t broken.
I can’t pinpoint why I won’t let go emotionally. Perhaps my friend best described the sentiment: ”I’ve put my mother in hospice care and my father in a nursing home,” she said. ”I’ve advocated for Medicare and set up trusts to protect assets. I rented the family home to generate income, and I’ve done all this with a sense of detachment, because it’s too painful and emotionally draining to really think about what I’m doing.” I get it. I think I too went through the process of closing up my parent’s estate with business like detachment. But when it now comes to the final piece – the actual sale and transfer of the deed of the family home – I can’t do it. If I do it with emotional disengagement it dehumanizes me to some degree, and if I let myself experience the range of emotions that come with this last act, I fear being reduced to a pile of maudlin rubble. Right now, at least, I don’t have the time or the space for that.
Maybe in a few weeks, or a few months, or a few years, selling the house – giving the impression I’m done with it – will seem OK, or at least easier to do. Or maybe this is one of those gauntlets you have to run to find out who you really are and what you are made of. Whatever it is, I’m tired of running it, of always being one step ahead of the feeling of loss and being emotionally orphaned.
Perhaps that fatigue is the first cut in breaking the tie that binds me to a piece of property that no longer allows my spirit to rest.