REFLECT, RENEW, REBUILD
ALICE'S HOUSE, Jess Gibson's Story
It is 2:30 am…less than 12 hours after I watched the last standing bricks of the chimney of crumble into the pile of ash, which we once called Alice's House. I can't sleep. It isn't because of the deep personal loss that this is for me and my family, especially my mother, but more because I find myself overwhelmed with a desire to properly honor and remember all that this humble home by the sea had provided to those who crossed her threshold.
In this special place…families were reunited, loss was mourned, grief was consoled, tears were shed, joy was celebrated, meals were offered, prayers were whispered, wounds were healed, burdens were lifted, solitude was granted, relationships were strengthened, friendships were renewed, inspiration was fueled, letters were written, dreams were dared, stories were told, songs were sung, love was shared, loneliness was comforted, hearts were mended, hurts were forgiven, struggles were acknowledged, worries were eased, strength was mustered, life was honored, and peace was found.
It is incredible to know how much this space meant to so many - to know the lives that were truly altered by the spirit of Alice's House.
I was just at the house last weekend and I am still in disbelief that I will never again walk up that warped wooden path, take the two creaky steps up to the door and hear the bells jingle as I enter the kitchen. In my mind, I am looping a virtual visual tour of every detail of the inside and outside of Alice's House. I want to remember and record it all while it is still fresh and crisp in my memory as it was before it was all just a black smoldering heap in front of me. The old blue and white jars that lined the shelves in the kitchen, the big soapstone sink, the rocking chairs, the photo of Alice, the fisherman's prayer, the blue light at the top of the stairs, the collection of books, the little angels and trinkets by the desk, the table of heart shape rocks collected from the beach, the driftwood wreath, the basket of journals, the kitchen table. The kitchen table is what I return to over and over again. When I got home last night, I re-read the journal entry we had saved from Alice describing the history of that mighty oak table and of all who gathered around it over the 100+ years it was a part of that home. I have this romantic dream that tomorrow, when I return to the ashes by the ocean, that somehow, miraculously, a plank or square of that table might be salvaged.
It is hard to cope with and understand why and how a place that just was so intrinsically good, could just…be no more. It is heartbreaking. I never imagined that this chapter of Alice's House would be closing today…March 8, 2012. The most unsettling piece of all of this is knowing that my mother will not have this space to graciously, without hesitation or question, quietly and humbly extend to anyone who needed it. Knowing my mother, as maybe some of you who will one day read this do, it is no secret that the spirit of giving and the calling to heal and comfort all around her is present in her every breath. Alice opened her home to so many who were seeking a friend, a sponsor, compassion and support. My mother was one of these people who regularly gathered with Alice and their friends as they supported each other through cancer treatments and forged deep friendships.
My mother was absolutely attuned to the healing powers and energy that lived in Alice's house and when Alice finally joined her husband in heaven after losing her battle with cancer, my mother was so moved, she quickly formed a non-profit whose mission was to provide a haven for spiritual renewal, and they purchased the house. These days, in a society driven by the mantras of more, more, more, it is less and less often that you come across people who have a acute awareness of and appreciation for the small gifts and the very basic things we have and need. I learned at Alice's House to have true gratitude for the daily wonders of nature, for the sunrise and the sunset, the cycles of the moon, the power of the sea, and the love and kindness that can be exchanged between souls who are good. Thank you, Mom and Alice, for teaching us to celebrate and honor this beauty and solitude, for showing us grace, and for opening your hearts and this home so fully to all of us who needed it.
To learn more about Alice’s House or to contribute, please reach out to Janet Gibson at 781-834-8993 or email AlicesHouse112@gmail.com.