I’m on the plane back to Minnesota from a week spent preparing my parent’s to move from my childhood home. I expected to experience some grief in that process, and I did, a little. But only at the picture wall I’d forgotten, on which hung every family photo Marrett and I had taken, an inadvertent shrine to the life we all lost when he died. Only at the sight of my uncle waving from the house he now lives in alone, where my aunt died of cancer last September.
But the expected grief never came. Perhaps the anticipation of it was all the attention this grief needed, or perhaps it is yet to come. My family has lived on that land for two generations, where my grandparents homesteaded in the last government giveaway of stolen indigenous land. My relatives have both lived and died there, their ashes interred in the homestead monument standing at the intersection of the now divided family land. The house will pass out of the family now, even though it is surrounded on all sides by my mother’s siblings and my cousins.
My parent’s new house makes sense, smaller and more accessible. The views are spectacular. Where my childhood home was surrounded by trees, the new place (also an old homestead cabin) is open to mountain views and sits on a lake. It is a place my parents can imagine a new future for themselves, and where we as children can imagine a family property we will all want to preserve.
I feel about this move much how I felt about the one I made a year ago: it is time for change, for moving forward, for letting go. The lives that we used to have made sense in those big houses, full of children, full of life, now only full of memories. The lives we have now need new homes, new rooms to fill with memories that will be equally beautiful even if they are different than we wanted or imagined. To physically move is a relief, a living out of the reality we’ve already adjusted to. Our families are smaller, our capacity changed, our priorities shifted.
The relief is spiritual too, a reprieve from what has seemed constant loss over the last few years. While we continue to carry the losses, the seem less heavy this spring than they have to me. I look into a future that is more than a mystery now. The vision of what will be is starting to be clear, and I look ahead with hope and even excitement.
My parents are moving and so am I, not moving on, as Nora McInerny says, but moving forward.