My nephews came in to visit last night. My oldest sister brought them from Chicago—a five and a three year old who had spent much of the day sitting in the backseat of a car. They’ll stay the whole weekend. In fact they are there right now, the three of them—my sister and two nephews. All alone in our house. Our new house. Our first house. The one with the new sofa and love-seat and white, oh so white, chair.
Last night before bed, I assessed the damage: the pizza palm print on my new hat (the one I received from my wife on Valentine’s Day) and a matching paw mark on the new couch; the basement that looked like it had hosted a Frat gathering; the guitar resting on our bedroom wall, removed from its usual downstairs spot during an impromptu “jam” session put on by Eli, the three year old. (And I do not mean “jam” in the musical nor jelly sense.)
When I left for work today my wife was readying to leave as well, and we departed knowing that this very well may be the last time we ever see our home. Every time my phone vibrates, I grab it expecting to see a text from a neighbor that says something like, “Saw your place (well, what is left of it) on the news! Lot of smoke!”
I’m pretty laid back so I don’t really care that upon arrival my nephews went through my house room by room like it was an FBI raid. I don’t mind that the TV stand became a person stand, and the TV became a reasonable place to rest one’s hands and mouth/tongue. Sure, it is fine that your apple juice isn’t to your liking and thus belongs in and on the carpet. I don’t mind.
Except I do. Not much of me, mind you, but a little piece of me went through last night with anxiety, fear, and a wicked kind of ownership that in some way loved possessions more than people. Rather than clinging to some special memories, a portion of me was more concerned with cleaning up the mess.
I hope my house doesn’t get burned down—and I don’t think that is overtly sinful. I hope Sunday we can put most things back in order and live with the things we can’t. But more so, I hope this weekend challenges my wife and me to place the living above the lifeless–to love a bit a better the things that matter and roll with the punches on the things that ultimately don’t.