About a year after Eddie's death, I decided it was time to make some changes to the house. Up until then, I had left everything exactly as it was when Eddie was alive. We built the house in 1989 and it had been our home for 20 years. During the first year after his death I didn't feel right about changing anything - it seemed like I would have been betraying him in some way. In time though I realized that if I was going to stay in the house I had to make it more mine and less ours. It wasn't that I wanted to get rid of memories of Eddie or to do away with things that he liked. I just needed to change things so the house would reflect me instead of us.
The original wallpaper in the kitchen and both bathrooms came down and was replaced with brown and green paint. I changed throw rugs throughout the house, rearranged furniture, and put up new curtains. I bought new wall pictures for every room and put out lots of flower arrangements and candles. I think I personally kept Pier I, Kirklands, and Kohls in business for a few months! I felt a little twinge of regret each time I removed something old, but I also felt a sense of hope when I added something new. I became a little more comfortable in the house with every change. In time it began to feel like a home again - my home.
I've continued to make changes over the past two years. I gave Eddie's big leather recliner to Trey and replaced it with a smaller one more suited to me. The deer head that hung over our fireplace for 20 years is now proudly displayed in Trey's home. I've replaced the stove and dishwasher in the kitchen and the television in the living room. I have a dinette set in the kitchen and a living room table that my grandmother gave me, and I kept an antique secretary and grandfather clock that belonged to Eddie's grandparents.
Now I have a good mixture of items that represent both the past and the present. My home is a combination of what was his, what was ours, and what is now mine. I replaced material things, but the memories will always be here. The big difference is that I have something I can be comfortable with. What was just a house for the first year after Eddie died is once again a home.
"Memories are treasures that time cannot destroy. They are the happy pathway to yesterday's bright joy."
-Helen Steiner Rice