Diana rolled over on the air mattress and rubbed her back. Well, this was the last night. Tomorrow night she would be in her own bed….. but she wouldn’t be here. Diane suddenly sat up at the realization. She had stayed in their house until it sold while her husband had gone ahead and moved to Colorado where he had acquired a new job. Their condo waited her arrival. Tomorrow morning… Diane glanced at her watch. This morning! This morning her husband would come and help load his truck with the last of their things and then they would drive the six hours to their new home.
Unable to sleep, Diana glanced around her. It seemed so surreal that she would never set foot in this house again….. This had been their home for twenty-six years. Walking through the house, Diana was aware of all the memories attached to it. Stopping at the stairway, she rubbed her hand over the banister, remembering how her boys would often use it to slide to the bottom. She thought for sure they would fall and break something, but they never did. Michael would lead the charge and Marshall would eagerly follow. The boys had been born thirteen months apart and were the best of friends. Their imaginations knew no limits and their measureless energy brought her nothing but immeasurable joy even if that meant collapsing into bed at the end of the day.
Diana continued her trip down memory lane. She stopped at each bedroom reveling in the memories of watching the boys sleep or she and Matt dancing by the light of the moon. Finding herself in the main bathroom, her attention centered on the linen closet door with penciled in lines on the door-frame documenting the boys’ growth. With her forefinger, she lovingly traced each line on the door frame visualizing each boy as they grew and matured. When the boys entered middle school, they declared this tradition too babyish and so it had ended. It wasn’t long before the boys were taller than she and Diana realized her little boys were becoming men. Every day they seemed to resemble their handsome father more and more. Matt had wanted to pain over this but she wouldn’t let him and now she wished she could take this with her. She knew in her heart that she couldn’t and had agreed when Matt offered to photograph it and blow it into a poster.
Diana wandered back down into the living room where she found the collage she and the boys had done for Matt for Father’s Day several years ago. Smiling, she reminisced how the photographer seemed to catch the boys’ playful mood. Matt loved the photos and lovingly placed the gift on the mantle with the other cherished photos.
The kitchen also seemed full of memories. Diana and Matt loved cooking together. There was something about seeing a man cooking in the kitchen…… Then there was cookie baking at Christmas and family dinners and parties.
Diana paced the floor waiting for Matt’s arrival to finish moving the last of their things. Opening the doors to their now empty deck, she stepped onto it to take in the view one last time. Their house was built on the beach of a large beautiful lake and they had spent a lot of time on the water, The boys had become accomplished swimmers winning many meets they competed in.
Tears threatened to spill out of her eyes and she brushed them away. She had already cried many tears over the changes happening in their lives. Michael had recently married a beautiful woman from Arizona and moved to her home-state. Marshall was preparing to graduate from a nearby university and had already accepted a job offer in Chicago. The empty nest had become stifling. She and Matt had discussed it and made the decision together to downsize and relocate to an area between the two boys. Then the job in Colorado fell neatly into their lap. Suddenly their lives were changing again. How Diana hated that word – Change! She wished back the time when her boys were young and they enjoyed so much in this house as a family. When she turned fifty, she hadn’t felt the least bit old with her husband by her side and her boys frolicking on the beach with their cousins playing a game of touch football. Yes, they had aged, but living in the moment surrounded by her family, she felt like she was twenty again. The truck pulling into their driveway disrupted her onslaught of memories. Flying down the steps, she jogged around the house to greet Matt.
“Hey, babe!” He called, “Ready to close this chapter with an old man and start a new chapter?” She flew into his arms tears flowing down over her cheeks. He held her for a long time and then gently wiped away the tears. Taking her hand they walked back into the house and began to load the last of their things. Diana finished it off with a last dusting while Matt opted to check out the boathouse for anything they had missed. A half hour later he was back pulling at her hand, “Come with me.”
“But the dusting…” Diana objected.
Matt put his fingers on her lips, “This house is clean enough. Come with me!” He led her out to the beach where Diana spotted a blanket and a picnic basket.
“What?!” She looked at him confused.
Matt smiled and led her to the blanket, “I want our last memory here to be a happy one.” Together they enjoyed a lighthearted meal before Matt stood up and reached for her hand, “Walk with me.” Smiling, Diana allowed him to pull her to her feet. They walked silently for a while before Matt flopped down on to the rocky soil, pulling Diana with him. He used a finger to trace her cheekbone, “You okay?”
Diana nodded, tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. “Yes…. but I hate this!”
“Moving? We don’t have to go, if you don’t want to.”
Diana shook her head, “No, it’s not that. It’s…… all this change. Why does life have to change?! I wish we could stay where we were twenty years ago when the boys were little and – ” She trailed off, not trusting her voice.
Matt sat up and pulled her toward him, “Sweetheart, no matter what happens or where life takes us, I want you to know that one thing will never change… and that is my love for you.” He kissed her gently on the lips. She nodded and buried her head in his chest and he put his arms around her and held her tightly. A few minutes later he pulled back, “Ready to start a new chapter with me?” Diana nodded and smiled and they stood up. Matt once again pulled her into his arms, “Diana, I don’t know where the future will take us, but will you share the remainder of our chapters with me.”
Grinning, Diana threw her arms around his neck, “All the way to the very end!”
Hand-in-hand they walked toward their future…. and a new beginning.