Today I took a little drive.
I was on my way to our new house, and instead of staying straight on the highway, I made a very familiar right turn.
A right turn that had been made hundreds of times in the past, but not for 10 years.
A right turn that would always be made on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, in years past.
I stopped by my grandparents' old house.
There was about a foot of snow still left on the ground from last week's blizzard. And as soon as I made that turn, there was no going back.
Over that river, and through those woods.
The neighborhood had barely changed. There were a few tree-forts added, a couple of newer cars in driveways, but that was about it. The same last names appeared on mailboxes. The same fences lined the road. That old cow complete-with-udders mailbox was still there. Rusty, but there.
I finally made it down the long winding road to Grandma & Grandpop's old house. 7521. Same mailbox, just painted differently. I hesitated for a moment. The snow lining the drive was so welcoming. I decided to turn into the drive, to get a better view of the house. I drove about half-way up the drive and just sat and stared.
The boxwoods were still lining the driveway and path to the house. I was grateful, Grandpop worked hard to plant and maintain those. The porch looked the same, just different furniture and perhaps a new railing. It was beautiful. I could practically smell Christmas dinner cooking in Grandma's double oven. A turkey and a ham. I caught myself looking twice swearing that I saw a few of my cousins as children running across the front yard chasing each other. It was then when I felt the warm tears run down my cheeks.
I felt as though I had every right to drive up the rest of that driveway. Why shouldn't I? These were my memories. My grandparents owned this house first. It was my cousins that grew up here. We spent every Christmas here for nearly 20 years. This wasn't someone else's house now. I should just be able to walk right up to the door, ring that familiar doorbell, and give Grandma that apple pie I'm holding. I should be able to go inside and place my gifts underneath of that Christmas tree. I should be able to sit at that childrens' table that is set up in the kitchen.
But I couldn't. It may be the same house, but it is no longer the same home.
Grandma, Grandpop, Uncle Mark...they all lived in that house. And they have all passed on to eternal life. And for some unknown reason that cannot be explained in this lifetime, those days had to end. But I will forever hold their beautiful, sacred memories. The memories of the moments that happened within property boundaries of this house.
And for now, I can drive and visit this sacred spot whenever I desire.