The Space That Doesn't Change

When my family’s house burned down just under three years ago, my dad decided to rebuild on the same property. That’s where his new house sits now—at the end of the same cul-de-sac that me and my two brothers all learned to ride our bikes in.

The first time I walked into the house, way before it was finished, I couldn’t help but compare and contrast it to the old house. The footprint of the house is drastically different. It’s on a completely separate foundation on a new spot on the property. And all the rooms are turned around…

As I write this, I’m sitting in the office of this “new” house that has never felt like home to me. I’m old now and haven’t stayed here for more than a string of nights in a row. I’m looking out onto a “for sale” sign in the front yard, contemplating what it all means.

Since this has never been home to me, it’s easy to think about letting it go. I’m privileged in that sense. Yet, I’m also acutely aware that there’s some unknowable essence in this space that I will miss.

And that has everything to do with the fact that my mom lived and died on this plot of land, and that when I look out the windows, I can still see her backing down the driveway (or more accurately the lawn).

My mom died in a bed in our home office on the ground floor in the old house. I slept in that room for a few weeks after she died.

And after I moved out a few months later, whenever I came back to visit, I’d always go in there, lay on the bed, and look at the book shelves and think about what she must have thought laying there unable to speak.

That room doesn’t exist anymore. It was demolished almost three years ago. I’m sitting in the new home office right now and it doesn’t resemble the old one at all. It doesn’t smell like it, feel like it, or look like it and it’s on the opposite side of the house entirely.

But even though that old home office doesn’t exist anymore, I know that the space still does. The essence of what was is still partially confined within the walls of this house.

It’s similar to what we experience when someone we love and spend lots of time with dies—

So much has changed, so much has been erased, yet there’s something intangible that’s stayed exactly the same.

I can’t help but think that that’s what love is.

It’s the force, the energy, the space that won’t change. Not in the face of death, divide, or destruction.

It’s always there, no matter what falls apart around us.

Kate Ward