My recent home improvement project was set in motion after my fourth hospital admission, when I realized that I had to make my environment more fall friendly. I needed to have a regular spot in the house where I can dump all my work things, be able to concentrate on my projects, and at the same time crash somewhere soft when fatigue triggers my cataplectic episodes. The only remaining unowned spaces were the Study room, Daddy’s den and Daddy’s bedroom. I’ve left the “Daddy spaces” mostly untouched since he died in February partly out of respect, and partly because I was bracing myself for the physically and emotionally draining task of clearing out his things. It felt wrong to immediately clear out his stuff and take over his space like some greedy kid eager to step into the Boss of the House shoes. Over the past couple of months after his death, I only changed the physical arrangements and brought some things to the den as needed, and tried to keep everything as he left it.
The “Daddy spaces” were originally the master units of our home, located in the front of the second floor with its own balcony. It is the same balcony where Daddy and I used to spend hours talking about random things when we both woke up in the middle of the night and had a hard time going back to sleep. In hindsight, I really am convinced that he was an undiagnosed narcoleptic (and possible cataplectic), like me. It’s the same balcony where I watch the sun rise at the break of dawn, or gaze at the stars when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It is the same balcony where I spend quiet moments reading my Bible devotions. The den is a corner room with its own door to the balcony, and a hatch covering a spiral staircase going down to the Study room. It’s been my nifty escape route for when I need to dodge my hyper kids to get something downstairs 😀 Sorry kids, Momma’s gotta work sometimes 😛 The den’s door to the balcony had been locked for years because we couldn’t find the key and the bar lock seemed to have rusted shut by now.
I realized that the inevitable time has come; I needed to move into Daddy’s room so I can have a bed near a quiet workspace. With a sigh and a prayer, I sat down on the den floor and started opening drawers and shelves and sorted through Daddy’s things. It took me a few days to go through everything – it was like Pandora’s box of memories. I went through every bit of paper, taking photos of old photos and cards that made me laugh, cringe, and cry all at the same time. And then they all went in a box in the attic, until my sisters and I have the common time to decide on a more permanent disposition. I literally went down on my hands and knees to scrub the whole top balcony (floor, walls, railing, everything!) which has not been properly cleaned since our maid left in January. Cleaning took longer than I anticipated because any chore is made a million times more challenging when your adrenals refuse to cooperate.
After cleaning out the shelves, I moved my stuff in and had the lock to the balcony changed so that the door is functional again. It took me more than a week to finally be able to step back and survey my progress. The end result was a far cry from the dark, dank, smoky den where Daddy used to hunch over his laptop watching movies until he fell asleep. The windows are opened wide, and the cold morning air freely circulates around the master bedroom, den and top balcony through open doors. It’s like a breath of new life that the key spaces in our home sorely needed. I like how the atmosphere became more free, open and inviting. My kids love running around the new passages, “visiting” me while I’m working just to say hi; Karlo loves hanging out in the balcony to have coffee and enjoy the fresh air with the added assurance that he can see me working on my desk (Oo na, ingaangkin ko na). Even my sisters have dropped by once in a while to check out the den, or lounged on the beanbags that I temporarily dumped on the master bedroom floor.
I never used to be a morning person, but now I wake up at around 5 or 6 AM without any alarms. Every morning feels so full of hope and excitement as I walk up to the master bedroom with my coffee and start opening the balcony doors. Every morning, I thank God for fighting the battle of keeping our home for us (a story for another day). Every morning, I thank Him for the energy, inspiration and encouragement that He gives me on a daily basis. And every morning, I promise Abba that I will not waste this gift; I will always dedicate our home to serving Him.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”– Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” – Psalm 127:1 (NIV)
“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” – Joshua 24: 15 (NIV)