nothing left to do but drive

All things go, all things go – Sufjan Stevens

(You don’t have to listen to the music, but I was when I wrote this)


With our quiet faces looking out of passenger seat windows and our arms stretched outside like paper wings, we drive away.  There are no smiles, only tears, but we’ve been walking on this planet for long enough to know that every tear will be caught by the one who carries us to the end of things. So with nothing left to do, we hold our children close and drive forward, into the wind.


We thought this place was an empire, the home of my youth, in later days a playground for my children. Now, as we pack grandmother’s things in cardboard boxes, we’re not so sure anymore, not so sure of a lot of things.

With Abuela in a home for Alzheimer’s patients, my father decided to sell and move to a place where memories no longer haunt like melancholy ghosts. We understand, but wish we didn’t have to.


My mother was always a collector, statues, spoons, china sets, every room overflowing with her touches, the rooms where three generations would gather on Sunday nights to pray for the week ahead, the kitchen where sweet Christmas Eve meals were cooked and laughter drowned out the sounds of rain.


Sunday was hard for all of us, but especially for my youngest, Isabella. When told she could choose two of Abuela’s dolls to keep for herself, she froze for a moment then crumpled onto the sofa and buried her face in my shoulder. Those dolls, they belonged to her Abuela, they belonged in that house. To take them would mess up the order of things, the order of life.

Later on, as we packed and divided boxes of china plates and Christmas decorations, my sweet little Izzy disappeared. After a while, I found her. She had been feverishly writing notes, to the new owners of the house. It was all she could think of doing, so there in the yard she spent the afternoon hiding her messages in trees and under bricks.

As we leave, to new cities and dreams, to gather our own collections and to pray our own family prayers, I shove one of her notes in my pocket, give my daughter a silent hug and gently guide her towards our van.

Then, with our quiet faces looking out of passenger seat windows and our arms stretched outside like paper wings, we drive away because this is life…and this is not the end.


* I wrote this a few years back. My mom has since passed away, but the emotions are still the same. And…my dad never was able to sell the house 🙂 


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