Our home was vacant four years before we came to fill it once more with life. For two generations prior, a family from Brooklyn kept it well, which was abundantly clear and among the many reasons we chose to carry that history forward. I wonder sometimes at what they would say. Would they approve of the things we are doing? Of those we have yet to do? Would they smile at our care or frown upon how slowly we move?
We have a lot to live up to. We are painfully aware of this, so much so that at the closing, across the table from estate lawyers and loved ones, I felt compelled to promise the home would breathe again, see life again, be loved again. I meant these things, and I know they were appreciated, but damn they’re heavy. Which is exactly why I approach them one small act of love at a time. Adding a fresh coat of paint in the laundry room. Cleaning windows that now let in unbelievable light. Clearing out flower beds to make room for re-sprouted bulbs and all kinds of other treasures, which are not new but are new to me.
With each small act, I can feel the pulse of our home return, stronger. Today’s project was no different. Clearing debris from a flower bed, I found a small wooden figurine. A girl in the garden, discovered by a girl in the garden, left or misplaced by a girl in the garden. I smiled, knowing that this time I could be certain my improvement was right. I picked up the girl, dusted her off, and brought her inside.
At long last, she’s home.
Ryan Vale McGonigle