After a few months, the kids and I are finally settled into our new house. We bought a big white house with a pool. It’s a house that daddy would have loved, I tell them.
Now we’re doing our best to make it a home.
We picked out new paint colors. Payton picked purple to match her princess canopy bed drape. The twins chose a green so lime you'll ask for a Corona when you walk in their room. Brayden chose grey, which I liked so much I carried it through to much of the first floor and my bedroom too.
I remember when I tried to get him to paint his office at work a nice grey and accent it with light couches. He said no. It was my Fifty Shades phase I suppose. I realize now you can't turn a country boy into Christian Grey. Maybe he'd laugh at all this grey, I think.
The kids love the pool. We invite friends to swim with us and I'm pretty sure the neighbors are tired of hearing "cannonball!" every three seconds. One of the twins said she thinks daddy would have liked to swim with her and show her the butterfly stroke. I tell her he absolutely would have loved that.
That was his best stroke —and it was fascinating to watch. The girls started swim team last month and after a couple false starts, some crying about the backstroke and a first place blue ribbon—I think he'd be proud of how amazing they are doing carrying in his (footsteps) wake.
I tried to grill burgers a couple times this summer. I burn the shit out of them every time. After they keep accidentally going up in flames and I douse them with a little beer, it looks like we are eating charcoal briquettes. The kids remind me, "Daddy's burgers were way better."
They are right. My husband used to make the best burgers. He added just the right amount of Worchester sauce and salt and pepper and he sliced the tomato perfectly symmetrical to go between the buns. He always remembered to put the tater tots in the oven, too. He freaking loved tater tots.
I try to mow the lawn like a normal person. By ‘normal,’ I mean as normal as possible while mowing in a bathing suit and flip flops uphill in 99-degree heat. There are zigzags and lane changes and circles around trees, you'd think I was running the mower around with a swarm of bees chasing after me.
I am remembering the beautiful straight lines he left in the grass, two houses ago, back when I took for granted that the yard was always edged.
I tried dressing up the yard by decorating the beds with special rocks his co-workers painted in his honor after his funeral. I wonder if he can see me pulling weeds and scheming to chainsaw down a couple trees out back. (I'm waiting for his sign to tell me 'NO' on that one.)
Juno the German shepherd has decided she doesn't care for the plush dog bed we had hoped she'd sleep on here. When she isn't guarding the foyer, she takes her place as the warm body next to me in bed. She is who hears me say "I miss you Matthew" every night.
I remember back when he and I wouldn't allow dogs upstairs, on couches or on beds. We set those rules presumably with hopes for a cleaner house, an easier time with our babies sleeping and peace at our own bedtime. I think he'd probably agree with me this time around, that sometimes you just need an 80-pound stuffed animal cozying up to you at night. She helps make this a home too.
There is still some yelling around here. There are still some tears. But there is also laughter and goofy smiles and playing with friends and living loud going on.
That's how you make a house a home.