After our two daughters had left home my husband and I decided to downsize-- to move from our house in the suburbs to a smaller one in town. It was going to be a happy move, an opportunity to be centrally located while still having a house with a garden.
In a green neighborhood just outside Tel Aviv, we found the perfect house. It was an old semi- detached that needed a lot of work: in Israeli terms "old" means about 60 year old. We were thrilled, we knew that this was the place where we would spend many happy years together, and in February we signed the contract.
However, as the Yiddish proverb goes “man plans and God laughs,” a week after we committed ourselves to buying the house my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. Still we worked on the plans for the new house together, it was our light in an otherwise very dark period. Originally we planned two studies, and I remember my heart sinking when my husband told me one day “I don’t believe that you would need that second study,” I didn’t want to hear it.
On my husband’s last day in July he was busy saying good bye to friends and family, he also signed the final papers for the sale of our house in the suburbs to make sure that my move to the new house would go smoothly.
Taking possession of the new house occurred on the day when I got up from the Shiva, and two days later the renovation began. I was grateful for this project, it forced me to be sharp and stay focused in order to take the necessary decisions and make the right choices. I was very fortunate because the architect and the builder, who were aware of my plight, were kind and generous. They took special care of me and we worked together in perfect harmony.
I have not seen renovation mentioned as a prescribed medicine for bereavement, but for me, (although I was still angry with Him for laughing at our plans) it was “God sent.” It is almost a cliche as the word "renovation" has within it the root "renewal." Indeed as we demolished and built new walls gradually turning a building site into a home, I realized that my shattered life was also taking a new form. It gave me new hope for the future.
This was the beginning of my recovery, and in less than three months, at the end of October 2007 I moved into my new house. I remember waking up on that first morning -- boxes everywhere, telling myself “this is where my new life starts.”
Each year at the end of October when I mark another anniversary to my house, I reflect on my circumstances six years ago and am thankful for the project and the kindness of people who helped me get back on my feet. But most of all, like Virginia Woolf, I am just happy to have “A Room of One's Own. “