It’s been about seven months since our house was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, and it took six of those months to remodel the first floor and make it “live-able” again. This past month, I have been moving at a non-stop, frenzied pace to unpack, organize, find new places for the things we still have, replace the necessary things that we lost, and also pass as a mom who can keep up with my kids’ increasingly demanding schedules.
When we first moved back in, the only furniture we had downstairs was the kitchen table and chairs. I decided that a table and chairs, a functional kitchen, and beds to sleep in were all we really needed. I remember watching my kids laughing and running around the wide open space of the living room, making the most of the situation. I felt awful that they didn’t have anywhere to sit or feel comfortable. Of course, they didn’t care. That was all me. And the waiting time for my previously ordered furniture to arrive seemed like an eternity.
Little by little our furniture has trickled in, and little by little, it looks like someone lives in this house. Our final piece of furniture is expected to arrive by July…almost an entire year from the time we lost all of our old furniture. I constantly remind myself that we got back fairly early compared to many other flood victims. Many are still living elsewhere, aching to be back in their old space.
Except it’s not really their old space. It’s a new space. Although lots of our downstairs was put back the way it was before, it feels entirely different. It’s as if it’s not quite mine. Sure, I picked out every single detail. I chose the creamy white paint on the walls. I selected the Blanca Arabescata quartz countertops. I even went by myself to find my new front door. When I look at what my contractor and I have created, I am amazed by how beautiful everything is. It is exactly what I would have wanted if I was given the opportunity to remodel my home by choice, and not by force.
Still, I find myself missing some of the details of my old space. Sometimes I see a picture of my kids on the old carpet that we ripped up and decided to replace with hardwood floors. It was a smart decision for selling value, and to relieve some of our allergy issues. Someone else who lived there before me chose that carpet, and I’m not sure I would have ever chosen it myself. But when I see those pictures with the carpet underneath my happy children, I feel a pang of sadness in my heart and I strangely miss it. I’m not sure what that is. Maybe it was just familiar. Maybe we just have so many memories that we made against that specific backdrop. Maybe it’s just all been so overwhelming, and I’m having a hard time adjusting to the new backdrop because I’m too busy trying to make the house feel like a home again. I know that it takes time to adapt to any new situation. I am grateful to be back in my own space, and aware that the space is now so incredibly beautiful.
I feel like the ultimate cheerleader when I find out a friend has finally moved back into their home, and I commiserate with the ones that are still waiting to be finished remodeling. Now that I have been on both sides, I can relate like never before with others that have been through this process.
When people mention to look at the silver lining of getting the kitchen I’ve always wanted, I completely agree. But I also can’t help but twinge a little. For some reason that statement seems to debunk the nightmare that my family has been through. A half a year to be relocated with two small children is no easy feat. A half year of trying to create and keep a sense of normalcy for those children is even harder. A half year of putting a house back together and making it live-able is extremely stressful and taxing. So yes, we got a beautiful kitchen and all new furniture out it. It’s a fortunate thing. I guess I’m just not over the catastrophe that initiated the end result. I’ll get there in time. It won’t ever feel the way home used to feel. But I have my own space back with my little family, and together, we will mold this house into a new version of home.