What is home?

Yesterday, I watched a woman receive the news she was getting housed.

It was emotional. Moving. Humbling.

A single mother, she arrived at the homeless shelter, two young children in tow, with no other options, nowhere else to go.

“It’s been a long month,” she told me when we chatted after she received the news. “And now this part is over.”

She moves out this weekend. Into her own place where she and her children can begin to rebuild their lives after the trauma of the past.

When her case worker told her the news she broke down. Crying. She hugged her children. Her case worker. Everyone in sight.

She jumped up and down. Did a crazy dance. Laughed and cried all at the same time.

And I remembered.

A time years ago when I received a box of kitchen supplies.

I had been living with my sister and her husband in North Vancouver for the months after the relationship that had almost killed me ended.

Finally, I was moving into my own place. Albeit the ground floor suite of their home, but it was my own place.

I had few possessions.

Everything my daughters and I owned had been put into storage a year and a half before when we first left our home in anticipation of moving into the house ‘that man’ had promised we’d bought together.

The house never materialized. The money disappeared and so did all our belongings.

Auctioned off eventually as the monthly rental he’d told me he paid had never been paid.

My sister had a friend who was moving to the states and was giving away a bunch of her kitchen stuff.

She gave it to me.

I remember sitting in my bedroom at my sister’s home and opening that box. I started to cry. Suddenly, all that I’d lost came sweeping in. The beautiful set of china my mother had given me. The hand-painted glass plates I’d brought back from Greece. The carefully collected and cherished possessions of a lifetime of living and growing and building a home and a life with my daughters.


In that one box I was reminded of what was lost, and what could be.

Suddenly, I had ‘things’ again. The lightness of being devoid of household possessions was gone and I was grounded at home.

Since that day so many years ago, I have gone on to rebuild my home.

This morning, I sit at my desk by the window at the front of our home, overlooking yard and trees and river. The window is open. Birds sing. The leaves rustle in the gentle morning breeze. The river flows with the depth and constancy of the Love that surrounds me and fills my world with such beauty.

Dishes, appliances, household clutter can be replaced, but what could not be taken away, and never needed replacing, was the love that constantly sustained me and carried me through those dark days, the Love that is present every day of my life.

I watched a mother begin her journey home yesterday.

She was elated. Excited. Happy.

She too does not have many possessions, and while she doesn’t have a sister helping her rebuild her household, she does have an incredible network of agencies working with her to ensure she and her children have a solid foundation upon which to build a better future.

A future where fear and abuse, uncertainty and trauma do not have to be the focal point of her journey.

A future where her children can go to bed at night confident they will not be awoken in the dark by screaming and crying and broken dishes on the floor.

A future where tomorrow has the possibility of being better than today because every day gets better when you live without fear of never having enough, of not being able to pay the rent, or put food on the table.

A future where your mother has room to breathe freely, to dream and to plan on how to make her dreams come true so that her children can grow up strong and free, living the lives she’s always dreamed they would have.

I witnessed a mother get the news she was going home yesterday.

My heart took flight.


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