Definitely, Maybe

I came home from a haunted house tour Thursday night disappointed that I hadn’t glimpsed any ghosts.
It must’ve been about 10:45PM, and I tramped upstairs, surprised to see The Rock awake and alert. I’d been waiting to complain to someone and now I had a readymade audience. He looked up from the TV, waiting for my haunted house report. “Ghosts never appear to me!” I lamented, slumping against the bookcase.


Be careful what you wish for,” he’d replied. And while I knew he was right — sorta — I still didn’t want to hear it. As much as I didn’t want to be the kid in The Sixth Sense, I do wonder why I’m not sensitive enough to pick up spirit vibes. It’s humbling, quite frankly. I’d always thought I was perceptive.


Of course, I really only care about one ghost — my mom — and I often wonder why she doesn’t come to see me. She’s even appeared to my dad, who claimed with the utmost seriousness that he saw her one Sunday in church, but she disappeared when he went to talk to her. My stepmom and dad also tell me that ghosts visit them regularly at home, and one of them, perhaps her husband (who died in in a fire) or my mom, shattered a marriage gift shortly after my dad re-married. And while I love ghost stories, I didn’t like thinking of my mom as a vengeful spirit, so I preferred to dismiss the broken dish as a natural occurrence.


Anyway, sometimes I need a reminder that there’s a force larger than myself at work in the universe. I want to know that there’s something more, beyond, a purpose, a place, a reason for living. And I think I came a little closer to peace with this issue this weekend.


The Rock and I spent some time on Saturday looking at rentals in a part of town we’ve designated “family-worthy.” For awhile now we’ve wanted a yard for the girls, a good school district, and a street. We currently rent behind another home, off the alley, and we don’t get trick-or-treaters, neighbors calling, or any of that white picket fence stuff. I love my neighborhood, but I feel like a persona non grata in my home, and I want the kids to have other kids on the street, block parties, and porch swings. Well, we looked at a rental (not the right place for us) and proceeded down another street to check out a house for sale. Instantly, I fell in love. White wooden shutters, cul de sac, kids playing like crazy, neighbors outside watering the front yard, you name it. We spoke awhile with a neighbor who told us that the street was “stinky with kids,” and that the street has “Leave it to Beaver” block parties at the end of the cul de sac, and oh boy, I can’t go on. It hurts too much.



I never even saw the inside of the house, but I didn’t care. The Rock is a tile and stone contractor and can improve anything. Just the vibe of the place, you know? It spoke to me, and the resulting desire pained me so much. It was a physical longing that brought tears to my eyes. But there’s NO WAY we can afford to buy a house. Even though the asking price was below market, even though with The Rock’s skills, we can fix it up and raise its value, even though, even though.


I cried a little, because it was all out of my hands, just beyond my grasp (if you call a $100K down payment “just” out of my grasp), and something I might never have in this town. I felt sorry for myself. I wondered who I could call for a loan. I simmered and stewed and melancholed. I even beseeched my mom for a miracle. I felt like I was scratching at the side of a well, trying to find a handhold, but the smooth surface repelled my advances. So I crumpled into a ball at the bottom, and tried to give up wanting.


Despite my dejection, later that day, my dad and stepmom arrived for a visit. As he came inside, I noticed that my dad was toting my mom’s La Pietà, a fixture in my childhood home for many years, a sight that always brings me comfort.


La Pieta


My mom brought the sculpture home from Rome in the early ’60s, and as it’s carved entirely from ivory, that was a feat. As long as I can remember, Mary’s right hand has been loose, and I’ve picked it up from the floor and reattached it numerous times. As my dad brought the Pietà up the stairs, Mary’s hand again fell off, and I lovingly re-enacted that old motion from my childhood.


I settled the Pietà on my countertop and somehow sensed my mom. Of anything she owned, La Pietà was her heart’s favorite, and it had captured her energy, which it keeps still. I had to wonder if this were a sign, or something she sent to give me perspective, or…what? My dad comes for visits so rarely, and to bring the Pietà was so unexpected that I think she heard me up there in heaven.


I don’t know what it means. I don’t know if she means to say everything will be OK. Or, that it’s not the things, it’s the people in them. Maybe she wants me to know that it’s not that I live in the house, it’s what I bring to the house. Or that she just wanted me to have peace for awhile. I can’t say. But I do know it came from her. I do have that certainty.


But still…


Yesterday, my melancholy persisted. I wanted that house. I wanted that house. I wanted that house. I wanted my kids to be in the house. I wanted Christmas trees in that house. I wanted the neighbors and the yard and the trick or treating and I wanted wanted wanted.


And then.


Today while working on my laptop at Panera, I met a single dad who is trying to find work after some hard times knocked him off his feet. He’d recently “found God,” so at first I was a bit hesitant to continue our conversation, but fortunately he wasn’t a pusher. I told him of my trying to find my way, of being born Catholic but finding the ritual and structure no longer speak to me, of looking for a message that resonates. After a little discussion, I also told him about that house. About how I’d prayed it could be mine, of wanting it so bad. He answered that he is currently living on a futon in someone else’s condo. That when his son comes to visit, they sleep together on the futon, that he too dreams of a house, but he’s grateful for what he has right now, at this minute.


And I realized how little I appreciate the things I have. How I have a husband who is a good man and listens sympathetically when I wish for ghosts, how I have two girls with sunshine smiles, how I have a home right at this instant that brings us all together, how maybe I need to see what’s right in front of me, instead of lying at the bottom of a well wishing for more.




Thanks Mom. Maybe you sent me these messages. Maybe you opened my eyes. Maybe you’ve been with me all along, and this whole time, I’d been looking for a ghost.


p.s. I still want the house. And I am still praying for a miracle while investigating all our options. BUT, I’m now more OK with letting it all unfold the way it’s supposed to, and with not letting the wanting destroy my appreciation for what I do have.


18 Responses to “Definitely, Maybe”

  1. Lori says:

    I think it’s hard to remember to be thankful sometimes. Especially in this commercialistic world.

    But, it’s a great outlook.

    You never know, maybe call the realtor and see if the owners want to rent? It’s not such a sellers market right now and maybe they’d be willing?

  2. vodkamom says:

    I am such a believer in “things that are meant to be will happen.” I really am. As to your mother, I know that she is with you in every way. It took me a long, long time to stop searching for her “presence.” Then, when I least expected it and when I most needed it- she came to me. In my dreams. I do see her every now and then- and it’s always a surprise and an incredible comfort. dammit.

  3. Steph says:

    You know, I felt EXACTLY that way about THIS house that I’m living in RIGHT NOW. I wanted it desperately. I was also 100% certain that we would never meet the requirements of the guy who owns it. (A long layoff will do amazingly bad shit to your ability to pay bills which will eff up your credit score in no time.) I prayed. I asked y’all to pray or send good thoughts or sprinkle fairy dust or wtf-ever people do.

    I got the house. I love the house more every day. I’m certain when it comes time for us to buy this house, it will happen.

    I’m also certain that I will be praying my black and tarry heart out that you get your dream house, too.

  4. That house? Looks almost exactly like MY house. Yet another sign that you will have it!

    I told you on Sunday what I think about it. I can’t wait to find out how this works out (and I feel very sure that it will).

  5. Once again, I feel gifted with a post here that makes me want to print it off, tuck it somewhere, and find it like a treasure to re-read when I’m having these same thoughts.

  6. Jennifer H says:

    My heart empathizes with you…we’re in almost the same situation right now, and I’ve had a hard time reminding myself to be grateful for what we have.

    But I, too, want a particular house. I have my fingers crossed that you get yours…

    (P.S. I want to see a ghost, too! My mother is sensitive, but I don’t seem to have inherited the gift. And I’m dying to go on a paranormal investigation!)

  7. Okay so this may be a bit out ther, bute here goes. I don’t believe in “ghosts” per se but I do believe that we all are beings of energy, love and joy and once we leave our physical bodies we are free to be pure loving energy and be with those we love. She is with you. Keep believing that. Also keep believing that your hearts true desires shape your life if you will let them. I send you joy, love peace and hope. Hang in there.

  8. Midlife Mama says:

    I so feel your pain. You live in a very expensive market, too, and a house that beautiful would set you back some, for sure. I can only guess how much it costs if $100,000 is a 20% downpayment. YIKES. It is so unfair that a house like that costs half a million dollars when in Ohio it would cost like $115,000. I love to watch House Hunters, but sometimes? It is so depressing watching these people buy 2,500 sq. ft. houses on a half an acre with all the bells and whistles for like $125,000. **sigh**.

    At least you rent a house. I live in an apartment; and while it’s a wonderful apartment, I still have people walking on my ceiling. Yuck.

  9. I love signs from the universe. They are everywhere for the finding.

    Dreams are how miracles get their start. (I just made that up. Cool, huh?)

  10. My mom passed away when I was a teenager, and I’ve never stopped wishing for some kind of a sign. Thanks for the reminder that we often overlook the most important things while we’re wishing for something else.

  11. Diane says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now but have never commented. I had to tonight, though. I LOVE the way you write and this post was something I really need to read right at this moment. Thank you.

  12. PAPA says:

    I also lost my mom. But this comment is not about that. it’s about the first time i came to LA i wanted this apartment, wanted it, wanted it, WANTED it. it was perfect. it had x, it had y, and it had z and even letters that come after z. There are more letters. it’s like planets. they’re always finding more. anyhway, i didnt’ get it and i was devastated. so i relunctantly when about my search and two weeks later i found another apartment and it was even better. hard to believe but it was. and it was cheaper. and more natural sunlight. (this is important). my point is sometimes when we don’t get what we want it just means there’s something better waiting in the wings…

  13. Danielle says:

    I understand your feelings. I am amazed however that you can write sometimes exactly how I feel. How do you do that? Maybe you’re more perceptive than you think. Positive house thoughts coming your way…

  14. Me says:

    I believe this was a sign from your mother. I believe she heard you up in heaven. I believe it was her letting you know she’s watching over you and is giving you strength when you need it most. I believe she wish she could be here with you too. I believe, I believe, I believe because while we were looking for a house three years ago I came upon a house that I longed for. I remember pulling up in front of the house with my truck facing the wrong way, so me in the driver seat could get a closer view. I remember thinking, ‘if only’ but it was way out of our price range. So much so I didn’t even bother getting a flyer because I didn’t want to get depressed. A couple months passed, we found another broker, got a better loan, prices dropped and we live in THAT house today. I believe all things happen for a reason. Your answers will come, I promise.

  15. thanks for bringing us all back down to earth. honestly. i, too often get caught up in the, I WANT I WANT bs. and then my daughter smiles at me or gives me a kiss and hug and i became grateful for what i have again.

    i will pray (not really, but i’ll think really very positive thoughts and stuff) that you get your dream house. i know how much it means to you…

  16. Oh man, that is stinky about the house. I do hope it works out. You never know. Daniel and I thought for sure we wanted to buy a house downtown after renting there for a while. We ended up in the burbs, where I never thought we would live. Things work out. That is neat about the Pieta finding its way into your house.

  17. Jamie says:

    I always find your words to be so comforting Deb. Your honesty, raw emotion makes me feel ‘heard’ in this Universe. Thank you for your touch.

    And as for the house. I often find myself placing/arranging/re-arranging furniture in my dream houses. It’s such a compulsion. I don;t know what it means, but I hope for you that your find the walls that call you.

  18. g says:

    What a wonderful post. I know that a house like that will come to you.

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