It’s our last night in Salem. Last night in the house with the infamous lime green wall, green shag carpet, orange shag carpet, red shag carpet, and wood panel walls everywhere you look.
We’ve had to adapt in so many ways to this crazy house. We all quickly learned to identify brown recluse spiders, and I still shudder when I remember finding them in my children’s beds, in their toy bag, in Silas’s sock drawer, on Samuel’s shirt (which he was wearing), crawling along my bare arm. I will definitely not miss seeing full spider traps in every corner of every room. I thank God for His protection over the last four years–with countless close calls, we made it out with no bites.
We also learned to adapt to living with a squishy-wet living room after every downpour, and eventually, puddles all over the rest of the downstairs as well. We had to say goodbye to a few furniture pieces and some treasured memories that were ruined in said puddles, and I’m hoping hard that we’ve seen the last of having carpet pulled up in the living room and fans running constantly for a week to dry everything out.
And I’m not sure there’s been one time when everything in the house worked at the same time. We adapted to being too hot upstairs and too cold downstairs. To not being able to use the downstairs bathroom. To doors that don’t latch shut and broken closet doors. To gutters that dance with the wind.
Even though this house was a blessing simply due to the sheer size, we’ve been super excited as we contemplated leaving all these quirky amenities behind.
But the emotions that accompanied the packing-up process took me by surprise. As I’ve worked like crazy this week, putting our life into boxes yet again, I kept looking up and seeing replays in my mind, replays of a life well-lived in this house.
There is the hearth that left the scar on Samuel’s head before we even moved in. Over there is the corner that was filled, floor to ceiling, with tree after Clay decided to go out into the woods and cut his own Christmas tree, underestimating its size just a tad. And back there is the backstage area for many many puppet shows behind the couch.
And here is the table that was the setting for so many birthday breakfasts. The counter where I kneaded my first from-scratch bread and gave my girls their first cooking lessons. The window where we loved to see the cats curled up watching us eat.
There is the table where Elisabeth and Samuel read their first words. The rug that was constantly home to piles of muddy shoes. The door where my youngest three babies all stood, watching their siblings play and run outside.
And upstairs is the huge playroom that rings with the echoes of laughter and singing and circuses and plays and dance parties. The room where we introduced our kids to Tolkien and Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables, a chapter a night. The wall that now has Elisabeth’s name on it, stubbornly refusing to clean off. The hallway where Samuel taught me how to be a ninja. The bathroom that got a thorough dousing every time the boys took a bath. And the room where I nursed my last two babies through their infant months.
Outside I see where Clay planted his first garden. The tree Abigail loved to climb. The pine trees they loved to sit under with their books. The street that held races on foot and on scooters and on bikes. Six big snowmen lined up in a row. The green patio that was so often completely covered with chalk drawings. The garage where Clay learned to process deer.
As I look around, I also see the couch where we cried when things at church got incredibly hard. The spot where I was packing for the family reunion when the doctor called with the news that the bloodwork had confirmed that our baby had miscarried. The place I was sitting when I got the text to come on home to say goodbye to my Granddaddy. The table where we sat several times with a calculator trying to figure out how it was all going to add up. And the prayers we prayed in every room of this house, about everything under the sun.
We brought our last two babies home to this house. This is where we sought God like never before over His plan for our lives. This is where we learned how to persevere through really really hard situations. This is where we celebrated the baptisms of two of our children.
We only lived here for four years, and really, that doesn’t seem like a very long time. But they were four years of constant change and growth and life. And four years can pack a lot of memories.
Tomorrow night this house will be empty. But maybe some echoes will remain. Echoes of a life lived fully by a family who laughed often, cried often, and loved much.
And even while I’m spending this time indulging memories of the past season, I can’t wait to begin filling the new house with memories-yet-to-be-made. Life is full of change, and we adapt with it. And the God who never changes goes with us and gives grace for every new journey.
Goodbye, Salem house.
Tomorrow, Lake City!.