I keep having these dreams about loss. Not like losing my keys or my wallet, but extreme heart-wrenching loss. One night before we left North Carolina I had a dream that I lost my husband. My cousin showed up at my door and I asked why he had driven all night from Washington State. He said, “It’s William” — and I knew in my heart he was gone. I woke up sobbing. My first night in California, I woke up from a vivid dream that someone had taken my newly adopted seven-year old niece. My heart ached and my face was wet with tears when I woke up.
I have been blessed to have not experienced real and heart-wrenching loss. I have been heart-broken, had many regrets, and wished and wished for something back. But real loss? I’m so very lucky to have not had to do that yet. This is the kind of loss I don’t think I will ever get over.
I’m currently at the tail end of a cross-country journey, where I’ve moved my four kids and the things that mean the most to me, and left our home in North Carolina. It’s on the calendar for a foreclosure sale tomorrow at the Wake County Courthouse. We have two pending offers for a short sale on the property, but Wells Fargo won’t postpone the sale because they needed paperwork that I can’t provide on a weekend. Seems unfair to have worked so hard for so long to save this house, just for the sake of saving it, to now lose it to some ridiculous paperwork mishap. But it’s fitting.
When I was fourteen years old I lost an 18kt gold pendant. The necklace was a small St. Christopher medal. When my father was a kid in the Philippines, he had a cavity filled with gold. Later, when the tooth fell out, the gold was removed from the tooth and made into the small medal. My mother gave it to me when I turned thirteen.
It was summer and I was strolling down a dock, watching the sun on the water. I sat and then lay facing down so that I could touch my hands to the water on the edge. We were on the sound where the water smells like salt and mud, not near the beach where it smells like wind. When I popped my self up, my necklace caught on the wooden dock and I watched the gold disc fall into the water. I looked hard and think that I imagined seeing it sink into the dark green mud. Should I tell someone? Who would help me? My parents were fishing and clamming not too far away. Of course they would yell at me, it was all my fault. Why was I laying face down on the dock anyway? Could I jump in? I had no idea how deep it was. I bet I could just reach down with my hands and feel around until I located it. But what if it was too deep. Then I would drown. Then I would really get yelled at. I went through the different choices in my head until I cried. There were too many scenarios, and none of them seemed to be doable. I sat on the dock and cried for a while. I convinced myself that my favorite necklace was a gift to a mermaid and walked off the dock in tears. I must have looked back at least twenty times thinking she would wave to me from the water and tell me she found it.
I don’t think I am going to get over losing our home to foreclosure. Not any time soon, anyway. Now that I’ve gathered my children and the things that mean the most and gotten OUT of that space, it feels easier to mourn. I don’t feel like I’m staring into murky green waters, staring hard for a glimmer of something — anything — that says it’s still within my reach. No more promises of loan modifications, no more applications to fill out, no more phone calls to make. The entire process of working through your mortgage company to save your home is EXACTLY what it looks like from the safety of the pier — a muddy, dark, bottomless hole of sadness and frustration.
The banking and mortgage industry will continue to fail us — if we don’t yell for help, educate ourselves on our options, and are too afraid to speak up and explain — I swear, I didn’t do anything wrong, I was just reaching for what everyone else was reaching for. And even when you do all the things you are supposed to do, all the things they tell you to do, all the things you think might change the outcome — I promise — it won’t be enough.
I spent years mourning the loss of this trinket — not the actual pendant, but what it represented and how much sentimental value it held for me. I can’t imagine that it will take me any less time to get over the loss of the house — not the actual house, but…just all of it. I want to convince myself that it will make a nice home for the next owners, that their kids will enjoy the murals I painted on my kids walls, the mother will enjoy my herb garden, the father will enjoy the garage, the mermaids will enjoy the shiny trinkets I may have forgotten in the corners of the bedrooms that we rushed and packed and left in a hurry. Making it back onto land off this dock seems like one of the longest walks I have ever taken, the entire time in tears. The dreams I have been having, where I wake up sobbing — remind me that I am still blessed to have not experienced real loss. Deep down inside, I know it’s just a house…this is the kind of loss I will get over…but still I’m resisting the urge to look back.