It’s been a difficult time, these weeks, months. This year. There has been a lot of pain, hardship, anger, uncertainty. There was been countless moments that I felt on the brink of collapse, bewildered by this life and how it all came to this. Angry at the Universe for leaving us here, stranded on the island of grief. At a loss as to how I could possibly move forward from here.
I found a foothold, though. In some small capacity, I have found a way toward the future.
I call it Hopewell House.
Tim and I always dreamed of homeownership. After twelve years, seven apartments, four cities, two cats, two babies, we dreamed of the day that we would find our home. A house that we would buy, set up, live in, celebrate. A farmhouse, we dreamed, with a few acres of land. Tim wanted to be able to see the night sky in it’s glory. I wanted a real garden to tend. Something we could fix up together, make our own. We wanted room for our children to run and roam the outdoors. A space in the world to call ours.
When Tim died, I immediately started scouring real estate listings. In my core, I needed to find a place for my children. A safe space to shelter and raise them amongst the fallout and chaos of death. We moved in with my parents, a safe and loving triage, but I needed to find my space to re-begin. In October I started working with my realtor, but I knew finding the right home would take time. I wanted a vintage home. Something with character and history, but as a solo parent I needed to be practical about what kind of house I would take on while caring for young children. So it took time.
In February, the day before I was to take my kids on our first plane ride, just the three of us, my realtor, John, emailed me. A new listing, he said, he wondered if I had seen it. It was the first day in months that I was not obsessively looking at Realestate, so I clicked on the link. It was perfect.
He scheduled a showing for that evening. I put an offer down that night, driving to his office at 8:30pm to fill out the paperwork my computer refused to process. The next day, while driving through Tampa, I negotiated the counter offer over bluetooth. Two months later, we closed. It’s mine now.
Hopewell House was built in 1915 in a neighborhood developed by the manufacturing factory that once employed the majority of this border village. It’s on a quiet street where children play and ride their bikes freely. It has a small lot with a large garden and minimal grass to mow. It was owned by the same family for over five decades, a widow and her second husband. It was cared for with love and thoughtfulness. It was tastefully renovated and modernized in the months before I bought it. I named it the day I closed on it. It’s beyond what I ever imagined my home could be.
We are settling in to our new life here. There are challenges that arise. Raising young children alone is an exhausting and challenging task, but I’m doing it. The kids love their rooms, their garden, and the wooded area in the adjoining lot. We have friendly, caring neighbors, large windows with ample sunlight. There’s a mantle for Tim’s urn, amethyst crystal, and photographs. Shelves for his journals and books. A master suit for me to seek refuge in at the end of the day. There is room for all of us to grow and flourish as time moves on. There is a future here.
It’s a bittersweet thing, to buy a house on your own. To unpack the belongings of a soul-mate who is no longer. To set up a home for three. But it’s a good thing too.