The House that Built Me

“Everyone has that moment I think, the moment when something momentous happens that it rips your very being into small pieces. And then you must stop. For a long time, you gather your
pieces. And it takes such a very long time, not to fit them back together, but to assemble them in a new way, not necessarily a better way. More, a way you can live with until you know for certain that this piece should go there, and that one there.” ― Kathleen Glasgow, Girl in Pieces

A few weeks after my dad died his spirit showed up in my room in the middle of the night.
Although it was not my first encounter with the other side, it stopped my heart and my breathing all at the same time. His unmistakable dark shadow stood outside my bathroom, bulky from wearing his heavy winter clothing. He was facing my window. In the morning I found a boot print facing the same direction.

After that mutually terrifying and relieving moment, I asked my dad only to visit me in my
dreams (which he has obliged) since seeing him in my room at night is too scary for my fragile
heart. He has come to urge me to keep going to work, that money doesn’t matter, and he isn’t
mad about how I’ve been spending his, and to let me know that wherever he is, he is on a healing journey. The week I met my dad in a dream, and he looked so healthy and healed. My aunt went to a medium who confirmed he couldn’t come through to speak because he was working on his healing.

That is what we are all working on aren’t we?

The Healing? “Grief shatters. If you let yourself shatter and then you put yourself back together,
piece by piece, you wake up and realize you have been completely reassembled” Glennon Doyle,

The day my sister and I closed on my dad’s farm was Wednesday. Just a regular workday for
most. For my sister and me, it was losing another piece of my dad. Losing the farm that had been in our family for over fifty years.

Sister had gone that morning to say her final goodbye, and I had the night before.
The evening before closing, Sister and I walked the property together and then she left. The sky
began falling and I went into my childhood bedroom to watch the storm. I could see the small
dark bloodstain in the corner from where my dad nicked his leg putting down the blue carpet. I
could see a hint of red paint on the baseboard from when my mom painted my room red, white
and blue as a symbol for my 4th of July birthday. I closed my eyes and remembered sleepovers
and being tucked in and sneaking in past my curfew listening to my dad snore from the next

I paced the hallways and listened for signs of my Grandpa Ed’s energy circulating the rooms. I
laid on the dining room floor and remembered how we started eating on TV trays in the living
room after my parent’s divorce. Time was passing, and I couldn’t leave. I knew I needed to
forgive someone and it was keeping me there.

When we were children, Sister and I were thick as thieves with the kids next door, Della and
Austin. We used to climb under the electric horse fence to get to each other’s farms for play
dates. We were shocked a few times, but it was always worth it to ride snowmobiles and run the
farms together.

Austin and I had become very close in my dad’s death, and he had fallen off the planet at the
beginning of the summer. While grieving my dad, I was grieving someone who had become my
rock in the loss. I had heard second hand that he was in and out of the hospital and jail that
summer. It is hard to know your friend is in pain and that you can’t help.

I had a lot of pride surrounding the forgiveness because I felt wronged, but I knew in my heart
and Brene Brown said it best, “In order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die.” Feeling responsible for him had to die. Feeling wronged in our friendship had to die. My pride had to die.

I texted him: Meet me at the fence.

Austin met me at the fence. I gave him a sign that hung on my dad’s garage. It hangs now in his
garage where it belongs. He let me cry to him in the rain about missing my dad. I knew he
missed him too. He reminded me that I am never a stranger at his house and that I am welcome
anytime. I reminded him that he needs to take care of himself better because he is worth it. We
each walked across our respective horse pastures, into the rain, leaving forgiveness at the fence.
For the last time I walked down from the barn, past the garage and got into my car. I backed up
and looked at the house. My childhood home. The house that my parents built. The house that
built me.

I looked at the spot my dad used to stand every time I would leave as an adult, with his head
down, hands in his pocket, trying not to cry because his little girl was heading back out into the

He was there.
He’s always there.
With me.
Because a dad never leaves his daughter.

by Kimberly Eichstead

mountain woman.
ocean lover.
van lifer.
freedom fighter.


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