To The Woman Who Owned My House

Compassion. Ten little letters which on their own are insignificant. Yet, when placed side by side, come together to spell a feeling so strong it can move mountains. And, when that word takes action, the world is a better place for it.

#1000Speak, Compassion, Key

To The Woman Who Owned My House,

My family and I looked at many houses during our search for a home to begin the next chapter of our lives. Some were professionally decorated, perfect paint colors and gleaming hardwood floors fit for the glossy pages of a magazine. Some felt like the word “home” would never find a home in my heart as I walked from room to room trying to imagine my family in them. When we first visited your home it was apparent it needed a little TLC, but not enough to turn us off to it. You see, I had already gathered you were recently divorced and had been living in the home on your own with your youngest of three children for a while so I expected some wear and tear to be evident as I imagined touch up paint and home maintenance may not have been at the top of your priorities nor possibly in your budget.

As we walked through your home, I saw the carpet that needed replacing, the walls that needed a fresh coat of paint, and the landscaping that needed some sprucing up. I also saw years of love, of life and memories on the walls (your children’s growth chart marked on the door frame in the pantry brought tears to my eyes).

As we continued our home search, we began to refer to your house as “the one with good bones, a solid house with great potential that just needed a little TLC” and came back for a second visit as we moved along in the decision process. With each visit, I began to envision tucking my children in at night, each in their new bedrooms and walking down the hall to the master bedroom to wrap up another full day of living in our new home. I could see us around the table in our new dining room, enjoying home cooked meals and conversation. As I slowly made my way through your home, the picture began to take shape as each scene painted the house as my home. With each step I took, I could more clearly see my family creating memories in each room much like yours did through the years.

compassion, #1000speak, home

At the closing, you rushed in late, looking a bit out of sorts. You ran back out to the car, having forgotten something. I watched you through the conference room window and tried to imagine what you were feeling. I felt sad that the end of your chapter was the beginning of mine as though I was taking something from you that didn’t belong to me.

I suppose that’s just how it is.

Life is an endless revolving door of experiences where one person exits and the other enters. Each compartment only allowing for one person to be fully present in that moment.

You took a deep breath as you settled in across the large, mahogany table from me, and only then did you look at us. In that moment, I wondered what was going through your mind as you took in my husband, myself and our children. Were you taken over by flashbacks of your own family, once intact, as you raised your children in the home that was about to become ours? As you handed the keys over, after documents were covered in ink, I saw tears in your eyes. I wanted to stand, make my way to you, and give you a hug. Instead, I simply said, “Thank you. Know that we are excited to make this our home and will create many happy memories in it.”

After we moved in, you and I texted about forwarded mail, trash pickup, etc. You could have ignored my queries as I’m sure you didn’t need to prolong the transition into your new life. I could have ignored your messages when your cat went missing and you were sure she had tried to come “home” once again. We didn’t.

As the weeks came and went, text messages became a bit more personal as we asked each other how we were settling in, how the kids were adjusting, how we were adapting to our morning cup of coffee in a new place. With each new message, I could see the transformation in you as you went from a woman whose life experiences had her doubting her future, hesitantly closing the door on a life lived and taking her first steps into the unknown to a woman who has not only embraced her new place but ultimately her new place in life.

I want you to know that your home has become our home. We have embraced it with love and excitement and are already creating memories we will carry for a lifetime. We may have painted, re-decorated and spruced things up a bit, but we were right when we described this house as “one with good bones, a solid house with great potential that just needed a little TLC.”

Apparently, that description fits the prior owner as well.


The Woman Who Has Made This House A Home

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85 thoughts on “To The Woman Who Owned My House

  1. What a sweet post, Leah! I think I will most certainly cry at the closing of our current home (if we ever decide to sell it). It’s our first house together as homeowners and a place where we started our little family of four (plus 2 dogs). Great meeting you today!

    1. Thank you Tee! Selling the first home is always an emotional time. So is moving out any home where you’ve creating memories in…each move is the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another and with that come emotions you never thought would be stirred up. Funny, we have a family of four as well and 2 dogs. 😉 Great meeting you too!

  2. Wow! What a beautiful, thought provoking post. I never considered it with my own home, maybe because I knew it was a rental and did not meet the previous tenants. I love your positive spin on compassion because often we think of the times that it was not there.

    1. Thank you! We’ve been in rentals too and they haven’t made the same emotional imprint on me, probably because the rentals we lived in didn’t have the same history as far as years and years of one family living in the home. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I loved this Leah and this sentence says it all: “Life is an endless revolving door of experiences where one person exits and the other enters.” There’s so much emotion in that description of life. Great post.

    1. Thank you Lisa. If we could stop a moment and think about the other person’s experience, try to relate, and know that we may be in their shoes some day, compassion would be the only way to respond.

  4. This is what I started my day with today at office, and I fought back the tears for as long as I could before I finally ran to the restroom. And you should know, Leah, that this is the most amazing interpretation of compassion that I have come across in the last few days.

    1. Oh, I’m sorry to have made you cry. There is a lot of emotion in this post and I do believe it came across to many readers. I appreciate you taking the time to read it and sharing your reaction and comment with me. It means a lot!

      1. Hey, don’t be sorry – being able to inspire emotion in others is a rare gift, and you should be thankful and proud that you were able to move so many people to tears! 🙂

  5. One of the most amazing things about 1000 Voices Speak is the sheer variety of ways people have approached it. This is amazing – both your consideration towards the woman and just the whole of it, that you chose to write such a unique piece. Thank you Leah, and for all your support too!

    1. Yes! I’m still reading through the linky posts and am amazed at how many different ways compassion has been shared, put into words, and ultimately in to action. Thank you for planting the seed!

  6. Oh this hits home so much – we are selling the house we brought our second son home from the hospital to in a few months. And I hope that the next person who moves in approaches it with your heart and your compassion. Thank you for this.

    1. Awwwhhh…we’ve done that too. We’ve moved so often that we’ve had special life changing memories in each of our homes, but the ones where each of our children was born hold a very special place in my heart. Good luck in your next chapter. I’m sure you’ll fill it with many more wonderful memories.

  7. That’s lovely. I never met the person who used to live in my house, who built it. But I have a really good sense of her because I married her grandson. Lots of love in this house – but I bet she got as cross as I did about the lack of storage 😉

  8. Gosh, this one made me tear up…….What a wonderful post, Leah. And yes, life is a theatrical performance after all. One exits and the other enters. Do you realize that you were destined to be her angel. Maybe someone else would not have seen what you did. Maybe someone else would not have cared enough to help her move on like you did. God bless you, both. This post is a fav one from the ones I have read till now.

  9. Great post! We’ve bought several houses as a family, and in each case there was a bit of history and poignancy. The most recent house (the one we’re in now), we also forged a bit of a connection with the previous owners. They raised their two girls here, and I could see how the wife was very house-proud and emotionally invested in the home she had created for her family.

    1. If walls could talk right? We’ve encountered owners whom are so emotionally attached to their home that we’ve wondered if they truly wanted to sell it. However, leaving a home filled with your memories, love, and experiences isn’t always simple and definitely not free of emotion even if you’re looking forward to your next home.

  10. This is special. What a wonderful example of compassion. I can imagine just imagine all of the emotions on both sides of the mahogany table at that closing and I love that you went the extra mile in making her feel a little comfort. I have cried many times today, so many wonderful stories. Thank you for sharing yours.

    1. Thank you Sandy. There is so much emotion (both positive and negative) associated with a move. There may be excitement about beginning a new chapter, but that also means an old chapter must end and that isn’t always easy.

    1. Oops I hit post somehow by accident. Was going to say that I love how you wove the previous owner’s thoughts and life into your new chapter.

      1. Thank you my friend! Life really is a revolving door of experiences and just because I haven’t experienced what someone else is currently experiencing doesn’t mean I never will and vice versa. Understanding that is truly what compassion is all about. Hope to see you in NYC in July!

  11. Leah, this is beautiful. Not a lot of people would care to have the same perspective that you took. Compassion really has to do with the ability to see the other person as a friend, instead of an anonymous being. Once we choose to see it that way, all of a sudden we discover how much more our hearts are capable of opening up and sharing its gifts. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story! And I LOVED your instant tweet quote btw! Retweeted! :-))

    1. I always remind myself that we each have our own unique once upon a time and my life’s chapter at any given moment is mine and mine alone, but it shouldn’t stop me from trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes. Thank you for retweeting!

  12. Beautiful and touching to the core. Loved reading this, and as we sell our home – our beloved home – I hope prospective buyers see the love as you did. BTW, people used to tell my husband he looked like Ferris Bueller. Anyone? Anyone? 🙂

    1. Thank you Cathy. I bet prospective buyers will love the home as your family did and create many wonderful memories there too. Congrats on marrying Ferris Bueller! I loved that movie! 😉

  13. I loved this take on compassion. As someone who has moved 20+ times, there is always a sense of loss and renewal, and it worked so well that you and the other lady were able to help each other out. I love the revolving door analogy – very apt.

  14. Such a touching and moving story, Leah. Our house looks a bit like the place you described as I have been ill for many years and we have young kids, dogs and I am currently reclaiming some ground and hoping just to get a bit ahead and be kind to the house. That said, I’ve now got 1000 posts to read…or at least attempt.
    We recently bought a second dog, Lady who is 2 years old. Her former owner had finally found the love of her life later in life and was selling up her farm and moving towns to start over. She had 7 dogs and Lady was the youngest and I believe could well have been her favourite but she was also the easiest dog to rehome. Lady to that point had been living with her Mum, Dad and brother dog and so it was quite a transition for her. She is a very friendly dog and she came quite easily with us but for awhile she was really wondering when the holiday was going to end and she’d be going home. I had kept in touch a little with her former owner but she hasn’t kept in touch. I think she’s found it hard to let go.
    I wrote about a humorous account of compassion fatigue for my post:
    Best wishes,

    1. Thank you. It sounds like you have your home has seen its share of love. To me, that’s more beautiful than anything an interior decorator can provide. Lady sounds precious and I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been for that woman to give her up as it seems she has a true passion for animals. I’m so glad she ended up in your loving home.

  15. Ah Leonor, your post made me cry! I’m happy there are souls like you in the world. Thank you for such a beautiful post.
    PS; did the missing cat come back? I couldn’t help but wonder… I hope it did!

    1. Sandy, I’m sorry I made you cry but I know it’s because as often as you’ve moved you get it. And, yes the cat made it back home. It got out at her new home (not far from it’s original home) a couple of times and was just a bit confused as to which home was home. 🙁

    1. Thank you. We’ve moved so often, I can’t imagine what it feels like to walk away from a home you’ve lived in for so long, where you have so many memories, where you have raised your children. I’m just happy that we too can call it home and create our own family memories here.

  16. This is such a wonderful and happy ending story – the ones that I love!! I’m so glad that it was your family that got her house and I’m sure she is too!!

  17. What a beautiful story. I’m sure the previous owner is thrilled with her home finding a family that loves it as much as she did. Wishing you many years of health, love and happiness in your new home.

    1. Thank you. There are so many stories written in the walls of homes as they are privy to the most intimate of a family’s moments. Choosing a new home isn’t easy and walking away from one isn’t either. Thank you for stopping by!

  18. Oh my gosh, Leah I love this letter! How lovely that you and she were able to stay connected, and what a huge heart you have to even care about the future of your home’s former owner. Most people do not. This is a shining example of compassion and caring. I’m so glad I connected with you through this project – you are a treasure.

    1. Thank you Jen. Sometimes I pick up on someone’s feelings and can’t seem to shake it off. I’m glad she was just as willing to help me during my transition as well. I’m thrilled you and I connected too and look forward to meeting you in person soon!

  19. Wow. So beautiful. We are close to selling our house in WA, the only house our boys have known, and we are searching for our new house in AZ while living in an apartment. Your words touched me and brought tears to my eyes. Houses are homes, they are places filled with memories, emotions, and raw life. To walk away from one or to walk newly into one is so much more than a simple financial transaction, it is an emotional one as well. You captured this perfectly.

    1. Oh, we have been there too…living in an apartment in a new state as we search for our new home, not fully having said goodbye to our last home. That transition stage is challenging and exciting all at once. Funny thing is my kids loved the apartment living transition stage. In some ways it brought us closer together and not just physically. LOL Good luck to you and your beautiful family. May you find a house you can call home because there’s nothing like coming home no matter where you’ve been.

  20. Just beautiful. Like you, we have been living in a house that was only sold because its owners divorced. We still talk about the woman who owned this place, even though we’ve lived here 14 years, and are planning to move in the next few months. As you say, life is an endless revolving door.

    1. It really is an endless revolving door on so many levels. I hope you find a wonderful home. It must be hard to walk away from a home that is filled with that many years worth of memories. Good luck!

  21. The word compassion is in your heart, always God take you to helps people with your compassion and you’re words God Bless you, #1Fan.

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