“How cruelly sweet are the echoes that start, When memory plays an old tune on the heart”
— Eliza Cook
There are two times when a house echoes.
The first time is after you buy the home. The initial step echoes as you cross the threshold of one of life’s major purchases. Each stroke of the hammer rings as the first few nails are driven into the wall. Every clang, every bump, every sound, every word, every song echoes with anticipation and excitement of something new. Something momentous.
The second time a house echoes is when it’s emptied. As we cross that threshold for the last time, even a handle click bounces from wall to wall. We might say goodbye as we walk out that door. Perhaps a bittersweet tune will form on our lips. That final goodbye song echoes off the walls, ringing back to us an empty sound.
No matter why we leave, there is always a little sadness. Even if we’re leaving for a better life, there holds a tinge of nostalgia. Of times remembered.
Often though, moving out is a difficult time. The dreams of youth have given way to the realities of age. The day comes when it isn’t possible to stay in the house of our choosing and we must depart. As we leave, every footstep toward that door echoes throughout the empty house, reminding us that it is time to go.
However, the echo isn’t necessarily a sound of sadness. It is a copy of an original. An inferior copy, true. Certainly more faint and less distinct. An acoustic reminder that the part of you that was invested in a house is no more. But it is still a copy of something real.
A memory, too, is a copy of something real. Life.
A memory is a faint and fuzzy impression of the original experience. Everything that happened in a house is stored as an echo in our mind. It’s not perfect, but it will resonate with us long after we’ve crossed that threshold for the last time.
There is sadness when we hear the echoes of an empty house. But we can take heart that, like an echo, our memories of the time spent in a home will reverberate for a long, long time.
The last two day’s gifts of time … With the help of many, packed and emptied my parents’ home. Although the echoes of an empty house saddened me, the memories will resonate forever.