For a long time after Taylor’s death I vacillated between being unable to look at her room and unable to leave her room. Everything about that space was Taylor and was life: the pictures, the pillows, her jewelry, the mess on the desk. I could soak it all in my heart one day and feel torn up by it the next.
A few years after Taylor died, we finally made the decision to sell the suburban house we raised the girls in and move to an apartment in New York City. We needed to start living again and wanted the vibrancy of the city and to make new memories. When planning a closing date for the apartment, we focused on Valentine’s Day – a day always filled with love, happiness, and beautiful family memories.
With a new lightness in my step, I went straight to the apartment after the closing. I was determined to feel happy, but as soon as I walked in the door, I felt crushed by the realization that Taylor would never live here. While the symbolism of the move was rich for us, I was kidding myself if I thought Taylor’s absence would feel any less keen in a new zip code.
Our move, made so we could start fresh, brought new pain and a whole new set of emotions to manage. In the house, I could be in her room and feel her presence, but in the apartment, she could not be more gone. Sometimes I wanted to pound our new walls with anguish that Taylor would never live here. Or anywhere.
As painful as these realizations were, the move did slowly help me accept the unavoidable truth. I would never have a home with Taylor physically present again, she would never go to college, never marry, never have any more milestones.
Today, I look at those not-so-new walls and smile. Our family has moved on, we have laughed, we have made new memories. The pain of Taylor’s absence is always with us, but so is the beauty of her smile, the sound of her laughter, and the squeeze of her hugs.
As I look at the glittering lights of New York City and up at the stars in the sky, I know we are still a family of five and our family bond endures. Bob always says that everyone is handed a deck of cards and life is all about how you play them.