When I was 5 years old, we moved from "the city" to "the valley". If you live in Los Angeles, you know what that means. I have touched on this subject here.
The valley was the place that a young couple could comfortably afford to buy a home, away from the city, and raise a family.
The years I spent on this street in the valley were magical. The kids on the street, although various ages, could spend hours together roller skating, bike riding, playing hide and seek, cowboys and Indians, and just generally running through the neighborhood.
Although I spent the first five years of my life in another home, the one in the valley is where I carry the most memories of my father.
When a child experiences the death of a parent, grief is revisited over and over again as you progress through life. At each new stage you come to understand it from a different perspective. New feelings are uncovered, and hopefully an opportunity for growth is found.
Many years ago, after the birth of my second child, the enormity of taking care of two children led me to a deeper place of dealing with my grief. As I navigated through these feelings, I began to think about my home in the valley...the one I grew up in...the one I associated most with my dad.
I even began to dream about that home and imagine what it would be like to go inside. I wondered how it would be to visit the lavendar bedroom, the bathroom mirror that my dad and I would stare into together while making funny faces, the kitchen where my mom would make a proper dinner each and every night, the empty living room where I learned to do somersaults, the master bedroom where I could find safety with my parents.
It was 1993, and I could not stop thinking about going inside that home. I almost felt a sense of urgency, that somehow, walking through this home...my past...would be healing in some way.
I was able to track down the owner of the home, and wondered if I should contact them.
Imagine getting a letter or phone call from some young woman saying..."you have no idea who I am, but I was actually the little girl who lived in this house first, way before you did. I would like to come walk through the house because I have some feelings of grief I would like to deal with, so you won't mind if come right over, would you?"
Yeah, right, no problem little (psycho) girl...
But, I felt determined and certain, that this was just what I needed to heal my heart.
And, when one feels determined and certain, one will do just about anything.
I contacted the lady of the house. I explained who I was and began to rattle off things about the house that only someone who had lived there would know. (you know, kind of like the killer who knows information the police have kept out of the public).
I named neighbors who were still living there, and even ones that had long sinced moved away.
She believed me...whew!
We talked. She was kind. And even said that she would be willing to let me come to her home.
But, as life sometimes just happens...nature took it's course...
As I mentioned above, it was 1993...the end of 1993, when we spoke. A few weeks later, the Northridge earthquake would hit. We would speak again following this event, only to have her tell me that I could come after their repairs had been made.
Didn't she understand that I didn't care if she had a broken shower, or if her ceiling was on the ground? I was a woman wanting to heal the heart of the little girl inside me. Who cared about "red tags" or FEMA?
I called one more time...she made every excuse not to let me come. Who could blame her really. To her I was just some nutty woman wanting to walk through her home, searching for ghosts.
How could she understand what walking through that home could mean to me? How could she imagine the little girl who once slid down her stairs on her tummy, or ran through her kitchen looking for oreos and milk, or cried in the safety of a once lavendar bedroom?
She could not.
I never called again.
I have driven by that house a couple of times since. Each time, I hope that someone is standing outside so I can tell them my story and ask to walk through.
I drive by, hoping that I can tell them...I'm the little girl, who rode a bike for the first time in that driveway, who felt safe with her mom and dad and brother and dog and turtle, who put on her roller skates with a key, and played Barbies til dark.
Thirteen years ago, I really thought that going through my valley home would be the key to healing the wound of grief.
I now know, it's okay if I never go in. But if I happen to drive by one day, and they are kind enough to let me...
I know it is something that this little girl from the valley would be forever appreciative of.