On the day it all happened, I had no idea we would not return home that night. It was supposed to be a normal day. Our final doctor’s visit was scheduled around 11:00 a.m. This visit would go over how the final week of pregnancy would play out. The plan was to induce labor in just one week, if she did not go into labor before that. The new baby room was complete too. We were ready. That appointment did not turn out to be routine. We spent the rest of the day and night at the hospital. After almost 24 hours, we returned home the next day. The real journey was about to begin. In running terms, we just finished a sprint of horrible sadness, and the marathon was about to start. Our home felt different. Something was missing. Something that was there and now it was not. Brad’s room became a safe place to us. We placed half of his ashes in a heart shaped keeper. It would lay nicely in his crib for months. From time to time, we would visit, just to talk or just feel like we were near him. The void inside us was enormous and his room filled a small part of it. I began to wonder if we could ever leave that home. It was the first home we ever owned. We had so many memories there. It was a part of us. As time went on, we knew that if we wanted to continue to grow our family, we would need to move into a larger place.
About six months later, we made the decision to start looking for a new home. Although half a year had passed, we still referred to the room as Brad’s room. Nothing had changed. It looked the same as it did the day it all happened. When our realtor came to check out our home, she saw his room and I could immediately tell that she had no clue of what had happened. Before she could say anything, I gave her the news. She was blindsided. This was the same person that sold us the house years prior. She had kept up with us on Facebook throughout the years, but she obviously did not know what had occurred. She immediately went to Sarah and hugged her tight. We were becoming use to these situations. I knew I would have to be strong for Sarah in this time.
As we went through the process of buying and selling our home, we encountered several obstacles. We learned this was common, but we were still not prepared for it. I just wanted to get this process done with as little pain to Sarah as possible. With so many emotions already around it, each hurdle took a tremendous toll on me. The final hurdle hurt worst of all. It had me in a mental choke hold. I called our realtor and broke down. Crying like a child, I explained to her that this was more than just the normal transaction. This had strong emotions attached and I could not keep this up much longer. I started to feel like nothing could go right in our lives. Finally, after another week went by, everything had worked out. We sold our home to a lovely couple. They reminded us of ourselves when we were starting out. This was their first home too. It was quite fitting that they would own it now. Since we had such a strong emotional attachment, it was important that the new owners care for the house as we did. Now was the hard part. How do we move out of here?
We packed and moved pretty quickly, but now it was time to make our final exit. I knew what Sarah would do. I knew she would walk in to Brad’s room one final time. I knew she would say a few words about how she was going to miss it so much. Then it happened. Something I did not expect. Something that would change me. As we were about to walk out of the kitchen door into the garage, she stopped, put her hands on the wall, and gave it a kiss. What was this? My mind went into overdrive trying to process what I was seeing. Was it a kiss goodbye? Was it her way of saying fair well to the memories? If so what memories? The bad ones? The good ones? Both? I was dumbfounded. It was a gesture that I had taken for granted. Kissing someone goodbye was important to Sarah. Why did this surprise to me? I held back my confusion. I could not say anything, I just tried to understand it. At that moment, I knew I would never forget it. It was something I thought about often. As time went on, I thought so many times that I needed to write it down. It had such an impact on me, but I was never able to tell Sarah of the impact. I had already realized there were so many things I needed to write down. I did not want any of the memories, good and bad, to be forgotten. I was not sure who needed to read them, but I knew I needed to do it. I kicked around the idea of writing for a few months. Finally, I had found time; I sat down and started with a letter to Brad. I wanted to tell him how we came up with his name. I also wanted this information saved, in case I got old one day and could not remember exactly how we came up with it. I knew that would never happen. I wrote the letter to him and it felt amazing. I had no idea that I could ever feel so much relief from writing. If I would have known the sense of satisfaction I received, I would have done it much sooner. Despite all this, I still could not tell Sarah. I do not know why exactly. We often spoke of our emotions and we supported each other. I just did not know how to explain it to her. We had a habit of telling each other when we had cried each day and why. It was always because of Brad, just different reasons each time.
After writing the letter to him, I had such great ambition. It gave me so much strength. I did not write again for months. I was a changed person and I was on a mission. I just did not know what mission. I had this passion inside of me and I was determined to discover what it was. I decided to tap into it, set some crazy goals, do something that was out of the ordinary. I set a near impossible New Year’s resolution, and I completed it to perfection. I ran my first marathon, and completed it exactly the way I planned. I started reading books, something I had previously hated. I removed myself from social media, because it had become a negative place to me. I had found something inside me that never knew I had. All of this was sparked by a Housekiss. One day I would be able to explain to Sarah the impact of her Housekiss, but it would need to be the perfect time.
In the two years after Brad’s passing, the amount of ironic or coincidental things that happened to us were adding up quickly. They happened so much that Sarah and I began to laugh about them. Maybe they were all coincidences, but maybe they were signs. Things that were intentionally placed in front of us to lead us to something great. Whatever they were, we payed attention to them. What could it hurt? Sarah knew I was changing myself for the better. She knew I had something deep down inside driving me. She never questioned anything. She stood right there beside me as she always has. Despite all the bad decisions I have made in my life, she has never stepped away. She only came closer. My love for her grows every time she does that. Why does she do that? She did it before Brad and she does it now. Maybe that is how true love is supposed to be.
One day, Sarah and I were talking about our finances and our future. She likes to plan things out, as well as write things down. A topic came up and it made me think about the Housekiss. I told Sarah that I needed to explain something to her before we spoke anymore about that topic. Something inside me told me that this would be the time to tell her. We would have to wait until we got home that night. I became anxious. She was sitting at her desk in our home office. I had the letter I had written to Brad. My words were choked by emotion. It was so hard to make them come out. I had started crying immediately. There were multiple pauses. I had trouble getting my words out over my tears. She listened without saying a word as I explained the impact her gesture. I told her about my need to write and gave her the letter. She read it and I immediately felt relief. I could tell that this was a lot for her to take in. We went from talking finances that morning to book writing and a Housekiss that night. She gave her full support. We did not talk anymore about it that night. The next morning I went off to work like any other day. I felt good, like I had lifted some weight off of me. I received a text from Sarah when she got to work. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was speechless. Her text read, “Did you know. Yesterday we had that emotional conversation… kissing the wall right? Check the date.” Also attached was a picture of her daily motivational reading book. Each day of the year had an excerpt. On this day last year she had written down a note to herself, it read: ” 2/21/16 We said our goodbyes to 218 Ridgewood Dr Daphne AL.” How could it possibly be? It was the exact one year anniversary of us leaving the house for the last time. I was blown away. All our other ironic or coincidental moments prior to this were child’s play compared to this. This was the last sign I needed to see.
As you read this, your spirituality, religion, or personal beliefs may give you reason to why these things occurred. My belief is that it happened so that each person who reads this can take something from it to help them. This was real! I was not going to let this powerful moment go to waste. I started the plan of writing this book. What did I have to lose? If it was not received well by others, and it did nothing, at least I had it all written down for myself. That is my original reason for writing anyway. I did not want to forget anything. I was always scared that if I forgot details about Brad, that somehow meant he did not exist. HE did exist! I held him that day. I took him away at our final visit. I spread his ashes in the bay. He was gone, but he still existed, now more than ever. Sarah’s small gesture had lit a fire inside of me. It was our home for so long, not just a house. Though in that very moment, she kissed it goodbye and it was just a house again.