It’s safe to say that 2017 has been a VERY good writing year for me so far — and it’s not over yet! I’ve written so many essays I’m incredibly proud of, and lots of them have been on the topics of disabilities, relationships and pop culture — all three of these topics are quickly becoming my “beats” as they say in the journalism world. But it was my essay for Country Living last week that might just be my favorite.
The essay “When Tragedy Turns Your Home Into Just Another House” was actually a long time coming for me. I’d had the idea for years, but couldn’t seem to get anything down on paper — err, I suppose, on the screen, really. I distinctly remember passing by my childhood home for the first time after my father died — this was after we’d moved into a new house across town. This is an experience we all can relate to, right? That feeling of seeing a part of your past whiz by and having it hit you that this isn’t your life anymore; it’s sort of like feeling completely removed from a place that once meant safety, comfort and security to you.
I felt like there was so much I wanted to say about this topic, so I started writing. And writing. And writing. This one took me longer than some of my other essays because I wanted so desperately to capture that feeling of loss — of losing my dad, of losing my childhood innocence, of losing a place that, although is still physically there, is gone forever for me.
Here’s an excerpt of the essay, in which I slowly realize that perhaps it is possible to take our home with us wherever we go in life…
The last time I stood outside on those front steps, our two-bedroom apartment felt nothing like a home. It was no longer a sanctuary, but a foreign land I didn’t recognize—it was full of unfamiliar terrain. It was cold and unforgiving. Where I once felt free, that house had become a prison and I could feel the walls slowly closing in. My mom, sister, and I had just finished packing, stuffing dishes, clothes, and a lifetime’s worth of memories into boxes. There was such a finality in closing those boxes, as if we were saying goodbye to the past. One life was over and another one was, reluctantly, beginning. With everything packed up, the emptiness became all too real: The walls, once lined with family photos, were now bare, casting shadows off one another like ghosts.
The whole place felt empty and hollow, much like my grieving heart.
You can read the full essay here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo