Moving to another home

From the moment Rashid was one year old and Karim three I moved to the flat where we have had wonderful times, just the three of us. Karim and Rashid both had their own rooms, de flat was close to the primary school the children were going to attend from the moment they would be four years old. There was also a kindergarten near by, shops, trees and grassfields, room for playing, in short a neighborhood fit for children. 

When Rashid had so many toys and stuff his room became too small, he and I switched rooms: he got the big master bedroom, I got his small bedroom. I only slept in it, but he used it to play there a lot with his friends. 

Rashid grew up in this flat, fell ill and eventually he died here.

After Rashid's death I emptied out his room, because Karim wanted to have the master bedroom. This room is at the back of the house and would be more quiet for Karim, who had difficulties falling asleep in the evenings. 

All Rashid's belongings went through my hands and I gave them a new place in my house: in a cupboard in my bedroom. I never took those things out of the cupboard any more, but it was good to know that they were there. With the first time I cleaned the windows in tears I also cleaned Rashid's fingerprints from the windows, the first time I swept the floors in tears I also swept away Rashid's footsteps. 

After I met my new husband we decided to stay in this flat for now on. I did not want to leave the neighborhood where Rashid had grown up. Here Rashid's classmates knew me as "Rashid's mom". Here Rashid had walked and played. Karim also felt at home in this neighborhood: his friends live here, here he went to high school. But we did have to make room. I had already given away Rashid's clothes right after he died to children in countries of war, now I also threw away the broken down cars that he liked so much. I took a number of videotapes to the hospital, where Rashid himself had enjoyed watching videotapes so much. I went through all his belongings again and moved them to a cupboard down the hallway. 

But Rashid's classmates went to High School and I started working fulltime. Less and less I heard the sound I liked so much: " Hello, Rashid's mom."

Slowly the neighborhood changed. Other people moved in, other children. It was no longer Rashid's neighborhood. I did not see his classmates anymore. And Karim moved away to start living with his father. And he took all his belongings with him. I felt more and more unhappy in this flat, but did not want to give up Rashid's house. It was my last familiar place where he had been, to which also Karim might be coming back. Rashid's first room was now the room for washing and drying clothes, his bedroom, which became Karim's bedroom, was now my husband's working room. The only thing left was a chalk drawing on the balcony's wall made by Rashid. I could not give that up? Karim found peace in his father's house that he could not find with me. He definitely decided not to come back. But the peace I had always found in this flat was gone. I had always enjoyed being at home alone surrounded by all my memories, but when I was alone now, I felt hunted and lonely. The word "moving" appeared in our conversations. We wrote letters to many towns around Amsterdam, but I did not really want to live there? The idea to move to the eastern part of Holland was discussed. But what was I to do with Rashid, who is buried in Amsterdam and whom I visited every week? I thought of reburying him, but thought this was so dreadful. Rashid is buried in such a beautiful place, which Karim and I chose for him very carefully. I could not, did not want to take him away from there. Above all I did not want to disturb his peace. 

Then what? We tried to buy a flat nearby, but the mortgage would be too much for us too pay. Buying a house seemed to be out of the question.

Again I went through all Rashid's belongings when Karim wanted to sell many of his own toys at an auction. Together we decided to sell some of Rashid's toys as well. He would have sold them himself, for he would have been 14 years old now. We sorted out his most favorite action figures and put them down on his grave. To a number of things were such dear memories that we did not want to get rid of them. Those things were put back into the box. Other things were put down to be sold. And at every toy Karim looked at me: "Are you sure, Mom?" he asked softly. And I nodded. It was allright. Other children would enjoy playing with these toys now. 

Until one day a letter came to say that we were second in a row to get a flat in Diemen, a small town near        amsterdam. It scared me and I put back the letter very quickly. I did not mention it to my husband. How could he think I wanted to go to Diemen? The idea of moving suddenly seemed so close. We had a look at the flat anyway. I was sure it would not be the right place for us. And we were second in a row. We would never get this flat. 

The flat appeared to be a spacious, light flat in a quiet, cosy neighborhood next to a shopping mall and public transport. It felt good being there. I felt myself become calm. This was the place I wanted to live in. I was amazed when I found out that it was even closer to the graveyard, where Rashid was buried than I thought. I was only a 15 minute ride by bike. It seemed like a gift from heaven. One week and a half we were kept in suspension: we did not know if the flat would be given to us. But it did. At July the 9th we signed the contract and we received the keys of the flat. Was there a guardian angel protecting us after all?

Now everything in the old flat had to be put into boxes. And again all Rashid's belongings went through my hands. And again I decided to give away some of his things: I took books and videotapes to the hospital, some of the toys were given away. Old sheets with pictures of the Turtles and Power Rangers on them were used to wrap delicate glass things in. But I also wanted to keep many things, which would get a new place in the new flat. 

First of all I put down my glass case with dear belongings of Rashid: Rashid's place in our new flat.

The top part of the glass case

The bottom part of the glass case

I made a picture of the chalk drawing on the balcony wall. Probably the new tenants will wash it off. But that is allright, because Rashid moves to the new home with me. His picture laughs at me from the living-room wall; the memories of him are in my head, his love is in my heart, as long as I live.