Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about home. Being at home. Coming home. Home sweet home. What does this really mean? From early childhood, I understood “home” as a physical place, an address where I live. Home provides space for storage, sustenance, and sleep.
Grief made me realize that home is more than an address. About six months after my husband’s death, I wrote, “In this new world, he is gone. He’s no longer here, in our home, where I now feel alone, lost, and, irrationally, homeless.”
As a new widow, at times, spending time at home felt intolerable. His absence loomed. He’d become conspicuously absent in the place where we had shared so much. It only looked like our home remained intact. Emotionally, it had been destroyed.
Since my husband’s death, I’ve encountered new ideas about home from unexpected sources. About 18 months into widowhood, a psychic medium reassured me that my husband encouraged us to relocate if we needed to. She said that my husband would be with me, always — not the house, but me.
Later, I read Kaira Jewel Lingo’s book, “We Were Made for These Times.” She describes “coming home” as being fully aware of the present. She writes, “This home inside of us is a home no one can take away from us, and it cannot be damaged or destroyed. No matter what happens around us, if we can find this home inside of us, we are always safe” (pp. 7-8). That is, she characterizes home in terms of mindfulness, the calm awareness that, with every moment, we can make a fresh start.
Billy Joel’s song, “And So It Goes” expresses similar ideas. He sings about the safe haven we each carry inside ourselves: “In every heart, there is a room, a sanctuary safe and strong. To heal the wounds of lovers past, until a new one comes along.” I’d loved this song as a high school student. Now, after rediscovering the song 30+ years later, I love it still. Once more, grief had taught me to understood the lyrics in an entirely new way.
Now, three and a half years into widowhood, I ache from my beloved husband’s absence. And with time, my life and home have changed. Today I live in the same place with a different (and wonderful) partner. Half of each week, his young boys live there too. My teen daughter joins us during college breaks. Despite the younger ones coming and going, my husband’s presence remains constant. Living where we once lived together helps me remember. Always, he’s here, part of me, within my heart.