The Empty Room

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on

I am in the process of moving house. Long story short – I have bought a place on the coast more than 500 miles from where I’ve lived for the past 40 years. It’s been a major decision and one fraught with anxiety – especially during these times of Covid.

I have decided to have all the floors sanded before my furniture arrives. I have a very few temporary pieces in the house already – a blow up mattress, table, two chairs, a TV, area rug – but I’ve been removing them this morning before the workmen arrive as the floors need to be absolutely bare.

As I was rolling up the rug, my mind went to a wonderful film – Truly, Madly, Deeply. It’s a beautiful British film, made in 1990, starring Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson. Stevenson plays a woman whose husband (Rickman) has died. She’s kept her home exactly as it was during their marriage, and her grief is so intense that his ghost moves back in with her. I don’t want to say too much more because it is one of the most beautiful films you will ever see on grief and healing, but one of the last scenes shows an empty room with its wooden floor and a rolled up rug in the corner. It doesn’t symbolize that her grief and pain has been totally eliminated – after all, she loved the guy Truly, Deeply and Madly – but it does mean she’s letting go and moving forward.

And that’s kinda-sorta how I’m feeling about this move. I have loved, loved, loved living in my apartment in the city for the past 5 years. It’s been a place of healing and joy and sanctuary, but it was a place we bought together for us to retire to. Although it was in my name and became ‘mine’ in every way possible, there was still a tie to him.

This move, this new apartment, is all me. Like the Stevenson character, I am both literally and metaphorically closing the door on ‘that’ part of my life. Where I am moving to has no memories of him or our life together. And even though we’ve been apart for almost 6 years, there was a comfort and security in surrounding myself with the familiarity of a city where I have lived for most of my adult life.

How’s it going to turn out?

I’ll keep you posted.

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