The last week, I’ve watched my home become less and less of a home. Walls started looking bare. Pictures started coming down. Boxes began to appear. And my heart became anxious. It’s time to do it again.
Time to wipe the path of caked-on toothpaste off the sink. The path that little mouths make each night, when I roll my eyes. I just cleaned that. It’s gone. The little handprints on the sink handles are gone. I wiped them away. Like no one ever lived here. Like little people never made messes here.
Wiping away the memories. Cleaning up the life that lived.
Cleaning up the afternoons of finger painting when the toddler couldn’t contain her creativity to the paper. When the walls and floor became her canvases. Over and over again. When she would stray with her painted fingers into other rooms, streaking her colors onto cabinets and sinks.
Wiping away the chocolate and Doritos from the sink in the bathroom. Again. For the last time. Wiping away the crayon and marker and paint streaked down into the drain, where they washed their tiny, precious hands. Wiping up the milky handprints off of the cupboard doors, where I hadn’t noticed them unless I happened to be on my knees cleaning something else.
Cleaning up the spilled flour and sugar from the baking we did together. Little hands clumsily measuring, held inside mommy’s hands. Careful. Pay attention. It’s gone. The food that boiled over from meals lovingly made. Early in the morning for the husband, in the evening for the family. Sweet treats made for special days. Holiday feasts and Birthday celebrations.
Wiping away the footprints. That paced floors with a sick baby who wouldn’t eat. Holding her. Tears falling. Pacing, praying. In the middle of the night, while the world slept and he was far away. Footprints from holding crying children who were missing Daddy. Or waking from nightmares. Fevers, coughs. Rocking, cuddling, praying more.
Footprints from wandering through the house, mindlessly fingering each blessed decade. Pacing because he hadn’t called when he usually did. Forgetting he said he wouldn’t be able to call. Remembering why he said he wouldn’t call. Which made the worrying worse.
Cleaning up the banners and countdowns. Wiping up the tears of Homecoming. He’s home! He’s safe! No more sleepless nights of worry and fear. More footprints to clean. Praise God. More paint on the walls. Thank you, Jesus. Cleaning up after him again.
Footprints from pacing. Timing the contractions, it’s almost time to go. Another sweet baby coming. A sweet, tiny baby who nearly didn’t make it. So small. Waiting. The pacing fizzled out. Leaving for the hospital. Coming home with a new human person. A precious daughter. Adding to our fold. Sleepless night of feeding and swaddling. Treasuring every second. Because they grow too fast.
Wiping away the worry and then grief. Leaving for the hospital, but coming home empty-handed. Cleaning up the shattered hearts, the tears falling. Wiping the door that opened again and again, letting love and blessings come in. Hugs, friends, food, comfort. Cleaning up the realization that even death cannot reign over Love. God conquers all.
Cleaning up after all the friends and family. Aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews. Grandmothers and Grandfathers. A house brimming with love, loud with joy. Wiping up the numerous little footprints that ran through the house all weekend, and then out the front door late Sunday night.
Books and plastic bangles found behind the furniture. Forgotten, lost. Now, found. Stuffing the little trinkets in the last few open boxes. Where all of our life lives.
Wiping up until it’s clean. Stark. No individuality left. Just white walls, wooden floors. Wiping away the life like it was never here. Because behind us, someone else will come. They will come in and make their own beautiful mess.
And we will continue on our journey, enter a new home. Start a new chapter. A chapter peppered with inevitable struggle and hardship. A chapter overflowing with joy and blessings. A chapter with new streaks of color. God willing, new life. A chapter with new footprints.