A Farewell Letter to Our Harvey Apartment

Dear Harvey Apartment,

Tonight is our last night to sleep here. Tomorrow we will fall asleep in our home for the first time in 6 months since Hurricane Harvey turned our lives upside down.

What’s that? You thought you were our home?

Well, in a way you were. You took us in when we had nowhere to go and you kept us safe. You kept us dry when it would rain and we never had to worry that the water would come in the doors or windows and take away all of our things…or at least the things we have left. You are a little bit tiny for a family of five, two dogs and a cat, at a mere two bedrooms and 855 square feet, but inside you we learned that we can live with much less, in much less, and still easily fill the space with love.

You showed us that life can look very different, even if just for a little while, but the important things, the things that make your heart swell and the liquid fill your eyes and the love that rests within my arms as a three year old falls asleep with her curls tickling my nose and a seven year old tucks his knees behind mine, stay with you wherever you go.

No matter where you are and what material possessions you may miss, life looks pretty much the same when you close your eyes at night, surrounded by the very reasons you continue to breathe.

I’ve spent six months inside your sheltering walls, my children growing in your presence {for, sadly, children continue to grow even when you wish the world would stop turning until life returns to normal}, and for that we will never forget you. My youngest potty trained in your bathrooms. My middle child went from home readers to novels and lost all his front teeth while we lived here, and my oldest graduated to the adult clothing department…all during this six months that I wish didn’t exist while struggling with the reality that in fact, it does.

It’s a strange place, this existential conundrum in which I’ve lived this half-year. The many years of training myself to be “present” discarded in favor of whatever amount of escapism is necessary to “just get through it.” And everything I’ve missed because of my inability to fully be here when my heart is still there…where we were…before all of this.

And I don’t really know why I’m telling you all of this, Harvey Apartment, except that someone needs to hear it, and you seem like a good listener.

Do you know, Harvey Apartment, that this is my fault? Do you know it’s my fault that we moved back to Houston and chose the house we did in the neighborhood we did? I was unsatisfied with where we were living. It didn’t feel right to me. It felt temporary and wasn’t where I wanted to raise our children. I was eager to get us to the place that would be our forever home and the place we were living at the time never felt right. I pushed the issue. I chose the area. Yes, I know, we make decisions as a family, but we are all well aware how much influence the Mommy has in these matters.

This week when I was washing construction dust off walls and ceilings, when I was mopping floors in a fruitless attempt to remove the film that never seems to go away, I imagined that the sore muscles and exhaustion could somehow atone for my fault in where we are…but it’s just an illusion, and I know that. How could washing floors and cleaning up dust ever erase from my children’s minds having their entire lives soaked through with two feet of water?

About a week before the flood, I recall a friend of mine telling me that if you hold too tightly to something you shouldn’t be holding onto, God will break your hand. Not as a form of punishment, of course, but out of love. And I’ve wondered…many, many times, as I sorted through the ruined material objects that I had held onto so tightly, for the sake of sentimentality or memories that came flooding back to me of my children in their younger years…objects I revered and refused to let go of, despite the fact that they sat in a box or on a shelf when others could have enjoyed them and made use of them…was the destruction of so many of those cherished possessions God’s way of breaking my hand? Was He trying to show me what I have always known on some level, that the moments themselves were what was important and that the material objects associated with them are what is truly transient and will eventually fall away? Was it an illusion that I was holding onto these things when perhaps they were actually holding onto me and that knowing what I know now, His breaking my hand has set me free?

Thank you, Harvey Apartment, for being a roof over our heads and strong arms that enclosed us while we healed. There is still healing yet to be done, but I know you understand what I mean and won’t take offense when I say I hope we never see you again.

With much love and gratitude,

Your Rambunctious Family Of Five


  1. Dear Harvey Apartment,

    I’m still here. I’m still refusing to buy replacement items or bring any more stuff into my life. Thanks for letting my cat, Buddy, come with me. It was our fourth move and we were very tired. He liked that my new mattress was on the floor. He died in my friend’s arms while I took a break and went out of town. I’m sad about that, but know he was old and more tired than I knew. I should write him a letter too. he woke me up early and got me out of that house.

    I am learning the valuable lesson of non-attachment. It’s real

    Thank you apartment for sheltering me now as I continue to hold out the hope that someday I too will be moving back home to my swing and my gardens and who knows what other adventures.


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