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Reclaiming a haunted space

My oldest child left home nine years ago, my middle child five years ago and my youngest four years ago.
 
I’ve gotten used to the space they left behind, along with the objects that remain in their rooms. They come home to visit, some staying for longer stretches in between projects and missions, the negative space that remains when they leave growing vaporous, as is meant to be.
 
I don’t pine for their presence yet am glad when it occurs, their bodies sturdy and in the same room as me. But their heady existence is no longer a mandatory thing needed for me to survive. I thrive knowing they are out in the world taking small steps toward their success, their destiny.
 
Still, emotions remain. I found myself sitting for a spell in my son’s room yesterday, his bed made neatly while the curtains Mom made him hang placidly from their rods. The room was thoroughly cleaned several months ago, which means nothing in it has moved. It sits in silent lucidity, awaiting its next incarnation, a rebirth into more than empty space.
 
There are two rooms in our upstairs, and by looking at our house from the road, one would think they are small and cramped. That notion couldn’t be further from the truth. When we bought the house nearly 22 years ago, they were dingy and tight.
 
My husband, champion at knocking walls and ceilings down, carefully deconstructed those rooms. Piece by piece the low ceilings were taken down, walls were undone and the rooms became larger than life. Now they are nearly small apartments, 14-foot ceiling peaks giving them that punch and space. If we lived in NYC, we could charge a small monthly fortune for them, but alas we live in Ohio.
 
I hang on to this space, having cleaned it out years ago, the mess left in the closets and corners of his room a trial to wade through. I see the light, the way it splays across the carpet at certain times of the day, knowing words would come to my fingertips here. It’s a great space that’s languishing because of my inability or resistance to make it into something else, something productive.
 
The kids laugh and tell me it’s because this is the room the Herrera ghost inhabits, or so they say, the specter that glides through left-behind items at night rattling the floor boards and opening my sleepy eyes in pause. I slumber directly under this room and wonder if the ghosts are made up in my mind, the groans of a house built in 1937 settling into itself through the cold winter months. Or are they remnants of my children, still running through my mind as I dream? A dark teal room, replete with large bookshelves and a desk, haunts me more than any ghost could. The room awaits reclamation.
 
But how does one take back a room that overwhelms you? Lingering scent of soccer shoes and drugstore spray colognes, remnants of boy smell left behind, trophies and long-forgotten notes, mismatched socks and Hiland blankets, a knowing that it will ever be "Hunter's room" when asked where something is that hides inside its recesses.
 
He's told me to reclaim it, to make it my own with a desk to write at. He said it's no longer his and will never be again as he looks toward his grit-laden path.
 
"You need a change of scenery Mom. Make my room yours," he said. "Don't let the same view you sit at shape every story you write."
 
So I find myself sitting on his chair, surrounded by a menagerie of his left-behind life. Some of Mom's things we've gone through I brought up here to store, my cat trailing me with her soft purrs and a head full of ideas.
 
How do I make it mine when I can still see him here, knowing he won't return to it? I peer through the window and watch the snow drift, sitting inside a cocoon, knowing I'll find my way out.
 

Published: February 12, 2018
New Article ID: 2018180209938