An essay on what happens when the heart of the home disappears.
We see the stars through plastic sheathing where the roof of our home should be. “Is that the Big Dipper?” my youngest son asks, looking upward, scooping Chinese noodles into his mouth, the third takeout meal this week. “It could be,” I shout over the staccato punch of a nail gun.
The men are working late; the deadline has passed for our kitchen renovation, a project Eric and I have been planning since we married and chose this particular roof under which to raise our five kids, now ages 9 to 15. The house, built in 1872, was old and crooked, but seemed perfect—except the kitchen, which was no bigger than a walk-in closet. But even my husband, who is the chef in our home, and a man who prides himself on fixing fine family dinners every day of the week, wanted the house.
Now six years later, our goal is to transform our shoebox kitchen into a room big enough for a table that will serve as a center for our family life. A table like the one I had in the kitchen of my childhood home, where I’d spend hours making Aunt Jewel’s raspberry bows with my mother, dipping each cookie in powdered sugar and placing them in boxes for delivery to someone for a birthday, always reserving four cookies for my siblings and me, which we’d eat with sweet tea.