“Home” is yet another thing dragged along in the ever-changing tides of grief.

It’s as if our house has been groaning with us, having an identity crisis of its own.

It still whispers softly of the terribly few memories we have with our son and screams loudly of the ones we will never get to make. My office reminds me often that I should not be working in there, as it was supposed to become Eli’s nursery. My desk will never forget that it was going to be replaced with a crib and moved upstairs. The door opens lifelessly, fully aware that we will never peek quietly past it to check on our baby boy. The floorboards know they will never creak underneath Eli’s feet. The bathtub remains dry, suffering from the uselessness of not having a baby to bathe.

The empty silence that echoes off of these walls can be deafening. As our hearts ache, so does our home.

But in the midst of its groaning, our house has primarily been a place of refuge. It has provided the necessary space for us to grieve, to breathe, to be. We have stumbled through the front door countless times, exhausted by another day of survival. Other times, we’ve remained sheltered inside, incapable of summoning the energy to leave. It could not protect us from death’s assault, but it gives us the room to mourn death’s attack. And it offers us the opportunity to keep Eli’s memory here even though he never got to call this his home.

Gratitude has not come easy this year, but I can now be thankful for this place that holds us in our grief.

Where we dwell in this life will always be a place of conflicting potential: potential sorrow and potential joy. Home can simultaneously be a place of brokenness and belonging, fear and safety, heartache and hope. The rooms occupied by us and our loved ones will one day become vacant. So even at their peak, our houses can’t offer what we truly long for.

We want a dwelling of permanent protection that cannot be emptied by death’s cruel intrusion or sin’s vicious stikes. We ache for the day when “the dwelling place of God is with man…and death shall be no more.”

We want to be Home.