Memories of summer (Part 1)
New Year’s Eve. It is our second last day at the old house. A couple arrives in the afternoon to pick up our television unit. Half an hour later, a man comes by to pick up our meals table. Piece by piece, our house feels emptier and emptier. As I watch Rick help to carry our meals table out of our home forever, my throat tightens with sadness. After dinner, we drive around Dee Why, Freshwater, and Narrabeen, like we always do on New Year’s Eve. This time, however, we say goodbye to all the places we’ve loved these past six years. “I don’t want to move,” says Pete quietly, from behind me in the car. “We know, darling,” I say. I reach my hand out to hold his. Later in the evening, we watch the nine o’clock fireworks together on our television in our very empty family room. The seven of us sit on the floor as we eat our Cornettos—our annual NYE treat. Rick takes selfies of us on his iPhone. At bedtime, we all pray together, and Rick and I give the boys extra long hugs and kisses. The big boys all say their individual goodbyes to their bedroom and the house (three of them even kiss the walls, bless their little hearts).
In the morning, I take lots of photos of the four big boys in their bedroom, before we all crowd into Lewis’ room for more photos. We have our last breakfast together in the old house. We eat in the formal dining room, where our other table still remains. I finish packing the boys’ things into their bags and backpacks. At nine o’clock, the boys leave the house for the last time. We drive them to Rick’s parents’ house, where they will enjoy a seven-day sleepover. Upstairs, Pa and Nan have already made up four beds for the big boys in the large room at the end of the hallway. Rick sets up Lewis’ cot, while the big boys choose where they will sleep. Soon, it is time for Rick and me to leave. I tell the boys how much I love them and how much I am going to miss them. “Daddy and I will work very hard to set up our new home,” I say. I give Rick’s parents a hug and kiss as well and thank them for looking after the boys. As we pull out of the driveway, Nan and Lewis wave us off. At the last minute, I see James run out of the house to see us. “Bye mum and dad!” he shouts. “Bye James!” I yell out the window. “I love you!”
We drive back to the old house and spend the rest of the day packing box after box, box after box. We pack till two o’clock in the morning, breaking only to enjoy Nan’s lasagne for dinner. The house looks sad and empty as we head to bed. Before we sleep, we reminisce about our first night at Oxford Falls. Rick reminds me how unsettled and uneasy I felt that night six years ago. I have no memory of it at all. As he gives me a hug, he reassures me that our new house will eventually feel like home, just like every other place we’ve called home. We fall asleep holding hands.
The next day, the removalists arrive punctually at seven o’clock. Within three hours, they have emptied the house and filled three trucks with all our possessions. Rick and I walk through the house one last time. As I stand in the family room and look back at our meals’ room, my tears begin to fall. All my sadness about moving comes pouring out of me like an avalanche. Images of the boys eating at the table and running around the table flash through my mind, and it makes me sob all the harder. Rick wraps his arm around my shoulders and leads me out of the family room, through the mud room, and into the garage. He helps to put on my shoes as I stand their motionlessly, still crying. I follow him out of the garage, across the lawn, and into the car—still crying. I cannot stop. As our Land Rover pulls down the driveway, I turn my head around to look at our house—our home—one last time. “Goodbye Oxford Falls,” I whisper under my breath. I turn my head back the other way, and Rick grins at me with his big, warm smile. As we start driving towards our new home, we hold each other’s hands once more…