I reclaimed some space this weekend. The guest room was vacated in November 2016, its bed moved in March 2017, and since then miscellaneous contents shifted in and out of the space. Its identity was in limbo and that weighed on me. The east wall holds a favorite picture of mine, its three siblings and the space they frame was absent love.
Or so I thought. Yesterday, a day after I reclaimed the space I realized the room actually held much love. The hope chest was a gift from my parents and my Grandma for my 25th birthday. It’s one of the few pieces of furniture I brought to my first marriage, and it’s traveled everywhere with me for the last 20+ years. Inside the cedar chest is a duvet cover that I bought when I moved to Portland, ME. It also housed the bedspread and shams that I also bought when I moved back to Illinois. The mirror was my Aunt Peg’s, claimed as my own from a family garage sale, the curtains I bought for the first “guest room” that never was in the faded mint green bungalow on Holmes Street in Springfield.
Saturday afternoon, I walked out to the garage and found the metal bed frame that I bought from Goodwill for $10 last fall. It was supposed to mount the headboard that I bought at a yard sale up the street for $15. I left the headboard behind and carried the frame inside the house. I went back and grabbed a wrench and screwdriver, returned to the bedroom to assemble the frame, set the box spring inside it, managed to push its queen pillow-top mattress up the stairs, covered it with a mattress cover and pad, found some soft cotton cream sheets and an old white blanket inside the hope chest, and made the bed. I then topped it off with my 16-year old white and green bedspread, I smoothed it out, stuffed the shams, and plunked the pillows down. I set the decade-old IKEA leaning bookcases/ AKA nightstands against the walls and went back out to the garage to grab the two white lamps I also bought at that yard sale last fall. I went to the basement and found two hyacinth pictures I bought from a resale shop last year, and hung them on the nails that once held pictures that he liked, that I either gave to him with his bed or maybe I donated to them to Goodwill, their whereabouts now are unimportant. I repurposed a piece that I have long-loved and set aside last year when my sister and I painted my home office. It was waiting to hang on this wall where the honey butter paint makes its blueish-grey foundation pop. A chair, part of a set from my sister and her husband, made its way from the garage to the south wall, adjacent to an old nightstand that when a second set of hands is available, will be moved to the garage and replaced with the nightstand also purchased at that yard sale up the street. The mattress set was from an old high school friend who needed to make way for her new set. I told her possessing it would be the impetus for me to reclaim this room. It’s no coincidence that two of my Maria High School yearbooks found a home on the nightstand.
And so yesterday, for the first time ever I laid on the bed and wrote in my journal in our guest room. Bridget and I have a real guest room in our house. For both of us, it’s the first time ever that we truly have a guest room. It no longer doubles as her father’s room. He doesn’t vacate it when guests arrive. His clothes don’t hang in the closet. It doesn’t smell like him. I don’t need to open the windows in the morning to air it out. He doesn’t live here anymore.
It took me a while to claim this room, this space. And I wonder why it took so long? Because time heals all wounds. That’s the mystery of love. In grieving its loss we find forgiveness and space. Time is that bridge. Forgiveness mends the broken heart, and the space afforded by that intentional act allows us to shine again and let love in.