Today I sign the papers on our new house! I'm excited and exhausted and feel completely out of my element. I have so much still to do. I should've been finishing up the packing or cleaning the apartment before the movers arrived. But no. Instead, I sat down and began to knit. What was I thinking? Actually, knitting was exactly what I needed to do. Knitting always calms me, and at this point my nerves are frayed. I haven't moved in years and I'd forgotten how stressful it can be. Usually, I'm organized and in control, but today I'm not (even if I look as though I am). On the insideand I don't mind admitting thisI'm a mess.
Mostly, I'm worried about Ellen. My ten-year-old has already had so much upheaval in her life. She feels secure in our tiny apartment. And it is tiny. It was just right for one small dog and me, but I never intended to stay here so long. When I moved into this space above the bookstore it was with the hopethe expectationthat Robert and I would reconcile. But the unthinkable happened and I lost my husband to a heart attack. After his funeral I remained here because making it from one day to the next was all I could deal with.
Then Ellen came into my life and it was obvious that two people and a dog, no matter how small, couldn't live comfortably in this minuscule space, although we managed for more than a year. I did make an earlier offer on a house but that didn't work out.
After bouncing from foster home to foster home, Ellen had ended up with her grandmother, who died when she was eight. So Ellen needed stability. She'd endured enough without having a move forced upon her so soon after the adoption.
In retrospect, I'm grateful that first house deal fell through, since it would've happened too fast for Ellenalthough I was disappointed at the time. Even now, Ellen feels uneasy about leaving Blossom Street, although I've reassured her that we aren't really leaving. Blossom Street Books is still here and so is the apartment. The only thing that'll be different is that at the end of the workday, instead of walking up the stairs, we'll drive home.
Sitting in the office of the Seattle title company, Anne Marie Roche signed her name at the bottom of the last document. She leaned back and felt the tension ease from between her shoulder blades. As of this moment she was the proud owner of her own home. Today was the culmination of several months of effort. She smiled at the two sellers who sat across the table from her; they looked equally happy.
"Is the house ours now?" Ellen whispered as she tugged at the sleeve of Anne Marie's jacket. "It is," she whispered back.
A few years ago Anne Marie had merely been going through the motions. Robert, her husband, had died, and she'd found herself a widow at the age of forty. She had no one in her life who loved her, no one she could love. All right, she had friends and family and she had her dog, Baxter, a Yorkieadmittedly a special dogbut Anne Marie needed more, wanted more. She'd craved the intense, focused, mutual love of a spouse, or a child of her own. Then she'd met Ellen through a volunteer program and they'd grown close. When Ellen's grandmother, Dolores, who'd been raising the girl, became seriously ill, Anne Marie had stepped inat Dolores's urging. She'd taken over as the girl's foster mother and, after Dolores's death, adopted her. Dolores must have known she was reaching the end of her life, and when she saw how attached Ellen and Anne Marie were, she'd been able to die in peace, confident in the knowledge that her granddaughter would be safe and, above all, loved.