You know it's really the end of the story when you finally carry out the last laundry basket with only the dish pan, dish soap, packing tape, sharpie pens and the tail end of bubble wrap inside.
All day shampooing carpets, washing out cupboards alone in this house, it was like an archaeological dig back through the layers of our life here - erasing our steps, tracing back to the first day we heard our two very little girls' running footsteps echoing through the empty rooms.
The weather changed throughout the day through all the seasons of Oregon's year - except for winter which I'll soon get enough of elsewhere.
And then standing out on the front walk barely weighed down with my last light load, amid the purple asters and glowing yellow leaves of the sweetspire bush, looking back at that familiar blue door, at those windows into rooms that have held so many moments, I felt such affection for this funny old house, the way it turns its back to the road so it can bury its face in the warmth and fragrance of its sunny bank of herbs and flowers.
It was like looking into the face of a very old friend.
"Thank you. You've been a good house. You've been such a perfect place to raise my family," I said this to my old house and I said it out loud.
Turning at last, walking on toward the car, my heart could hold only an overwhelming gratitude. I couldn't pray for any future, just thanks for all the years, all the days and hours of rain and sunshine, snail shells, blackberry-stained fingers, bike tires in this gravel, meteor showers overhead. I turned the ignition key and instantly the exact song (thanks to a playlist one of those little girls full grown made last year to pull me through a dark spot) came on.
I turned it up loud with all the windows rolled down, singing along at the top of my voice as the closing credits rolled, all the way down the hill and into the next story in my life.