73: A House with a View

73: A House with a View

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

A House with a View

You must train your intuition — you must trust the small voice inside you which tells you exactly what to say, what to decide.

~Ingrid Bergman

“We can’t live here.”

“What?” My husband gave me an incredulous stare. “Why not?”

“I don’t know,” I stammered, shaking my head. “It’s just… um… not right.”

“What on earth are you talking about? It’s perfect! A big kitchen with a view of the ocean. Three bedrooms, two baths — and I know you love that round corner fireplace in the family room!” He swept the room with his arm and then added, “Plus, it’s affordable and will be ready for us to move in on time.”

I nodded, tears welling up in my eyes. The house was perfect for us and all we had hoped for when we sat in our just-sold house in Illinois. Visions of a home with a view of the ocean filled our dreams as we prepared to begin a new adventure together.

Our life was going to be quite different, and not just because of the move. After eleven years of marriage, I was pregnant! The shock of it brought us utter joy as well as great surprise to our family and friends. It also meant changes, drastic ones.

As often happens, nothing was easy or logical. Bill had been waiting for the opportunity to transfer to California for five years. Word came of an opening soon after we learned of my pregnancy. The timing couldn’t have been worse. I was considered “high risk” because I was thirty-one years old. Today, that would be average, but in the early 1970s it was considered late in life to be delivering a baby.

“You can’t travel,” said my obstetrician.

“I have to,” I replied.

He argued with me, giving me all the reasons why I shouldn’t go house hunting with Bill, but he finally shook his head, muttering something about headstrong, older mothers-to-be.

Finding a new home turned out to be more challenging than we expected. Day after day, we drove up and down the coast searching for that perfect house. And on the fourth day, it looked like we had found it. Except…

We wandered through the house, and a mounting sense of panic began to surround me. I thought, Maybe it’s just my “condition,” or maybe I’m just tired, or maybe… But no. There was not a single reason for my feeling of alarm. I tried to push it down, but it grew.

“Look at the size of this room! It’ll easily hold our king-size bed,” Bill said with enthusiasm, “and the small one next to it will be perfect for the baby.” He kept his arm around me, pointing out the charms of the house as we walked through it again. I said nothing, and he was aware that I was quiet, not at all thrilled. He was confused but had gotten used to my new mood swings and endured them without comment. He knew they would pass. But this time nothing dispelled my feelings. In fact, the longer we stayed in the house, the more they grew. I felt a chill run down my entire body, and a sense of doom enveloped me.

“I’m sorry, honey. I really am.” I looked up at Bill and continued, “We just can’t live here.”

“Aww, Jeanie.” Bill’s face was one of complete exasperation.

I pushed my way outside and into our rental car. Bill followed hesitantly, looking at the house with longing. It hurt me to see him so sad. We gazed at the sun sparkling on the ocean as we slowly and silently took the curves down toward the freeway.

The next day, we didn’t mention the “house with the view,” but continued our search. Late in the afternoon, we discovered a new community of rolling hills and a beautiful house with a sweeping view of the valley and mountains beyond. It would be ready for occupancy within six weeks and, most important, filled me with serenity.

“We’ll be happy here,” I said. “I can feel it.”

Bill nodded and said, “I don’t understand — not at all,” but called to tell the agent that he’d made a sale.

A month later, we moved in, and six weeks after that the “baby” arrived — two of them! We were incredibly blessed and busy beyond belief.

More than a year went by before we were driving to San Diego with our daughters for a day at the zoo. We were passing the neighborhood where I had passed on our dream house with the ocean view because of my eerie “feelings.”

“Let’s go see the house,” I blurted out.

“What house?” Bill said, and then almost immediately, “Oh, that one. Okay, why not?” And he took the exit that led up the hill to the neighborhood.

As we came around the final curve, we both gasped, and Bill jammed on the brakes. There were no houses. None at all. In fact, all we saw was a round fireplace standing sentinel on the corner lot. “Our” fireplace.

“Fire,” Bill uttered through a deep breath.

“Fire? What fire?”

“Remember the Camp Pendleton fire, the one that got into the brush and went beyond the camp?” I nodded but didn’t take my eyes off the barrenness before me as he continued. “I heard that it burned some houses, but never dreamed it was here.” We stared at the bare street and that lone fireplace.

“Something bad was going to happen…” I whispered. “I knew it… I just didn’t know what.”

Voices rose from the back seat. The girls had been quietly complaining, but we were too stunned to take note of them until they added high-pitched whining, almost harmonized, as only they could do.

“Let’s get going,” Bill said, grinning at his daughters. He then reached over and hugged me. “You and your ‘feelings.’ I’m so grateful for them. I’ll never doubt you again!”

It’s been forty-five years since we found our perfect house with a view — the second one. We still live here, just the two of us again. Our daughters left for college, and then married and moved on with their own lives. They still love to hear the story of how we found the home where they grew up. And they are adjusting to the fact that it’s time for us to downsize and let another family enjoy a life of love and happiness here.

Feelings. Never deny them. They don’t come often, but I have experienced them occasionally, and each time learned they’re meant to be heard and heeded. They are God’s gifts.

~Jean Haynie Stewart

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