Change: When lofty plans meet everyday realities

We sold our loft bed set yesterday. David and Matt dismantled it and carried it in pieces out of the boys' old bedroom to a stranger's car. I didn't want to watch them cannibalize it.

That loft bed set has been in our home since 1984, when newborn Matt slept in a crib. The girls used it as a bunk bed until Matt was old enough to sleep in the bottom bunk while big brother Jeff climbed the ladder to the loft. The boys claimed the set as their own for the bulk of their childhood and into college years. The solid wood set was heavy and sturdy and made by Cargo to last. It has lasted for decades in our home.

"We can't hold onto the things or people of what once was. When we try, we clutter our rooms and our lives with memories and relics that make it hard, if not impossible, to fully embrace and welcome the gifts and people of today."

I have memories of that bunk bed/loft.

Years ago, in Maryland, when we lived at the back of the Village, small eyes would peek out from under warm blankets on that snug bunk bed during story time. From the boys' and girls' rooms small voices would repeat, "I'm not sleepy. Can I have a glass of water?"

I napped once on the lower bunk. I corralled preschool Jeff as he squirmed beside me by the wall. Finally he surrendered to rest and I did the same.

In Colorado, Rainy or Tiger would curl contentedly on the top bunk while four children and their friends would race from room to room out into the yard.

Grown men bunked in the boys' room for a week during one of the early Promise Keepers conventions in Boulder.

One weekend, the elementary-aged boys insisted they were old enough to have separate rooms. Jeff said he would sleep in the basement, so we took apart the bunk bed and carried the loft downstairs. We set up the twin bed for Matt. The next night, at Jeff's urging, we carried the loft back upstairs out of the big dark quiet family room and reassembled a bunk bed in the boys' room. They didn't mind sharing, after all.

Years later, back again in Maryland, the boys wanted separate rooms. A high schooler and Junior Higher didn't want to share. We managed to assemble the twin bed in the nook between the dining room and the living room. The former dining room with its nook bed became a cool bedroom for Jeff until he left for Eastern University. Matt took little time to claim his room and the loft that gave him lots of floor space to scatter and lose toys, clothes and homework assignments.

We played Sardines once as a family and all piled into the top bunk, praying it would hold David and me, two teens, and one preteen before we were discovered. It did. When we were finally discovered, we were mushed and laughing.

Slumber parties, pillow fights, tumbling matches, good dreams and bad -- that loft bed has endured it all. So have we, as a family.

One by one children left home for college or to don Army fatigues. One year, the loft bed was fetched to help Jeff conserve space in an apartment he shared with college buddies near Philadelphia. When Jeff no longer needed a bachelor arrangement, David and I carried the loft bed home and assembled it once again in the boys' old room so that Matt would have a familiar place to come home to after a tour in Iraq and his service in the Army.

Those were quiet years with the boys away, and the girls.

When Matt returned home from the Army, he'd outgrown the loft. The littlest had become the tallest and the strongest among us. He wanted a bed he could stretch out on, not the confines of his youth. We gave him the girls' old room and the loft stood lonely and neglected amid Matt's high school posters, swim team ribbons and outgrown toys.

Isn't that the way of things? We have to keep moving forward. Even if we come back to a familiar place, we are different and so is that place and its people. What is familiar is now different in some subtle or not so subtle ways. We change. Others change. Life changes, whether we are ready or not.

We can't hold onto the things or people of what once was. When we try, we clutter our rooms and our lives with memories and relics that make it hard, if not impossible, to fully embrace and welcome the gifts and people of today.

For years, the boys' old room has been cluttered with the loft bed. I've known it for some time, but wasn't ready to let the loft go. I thought I was saving it for Matt and then for future grandchildren.

When married children visited with babies in tow, it became apparent that the room needed to change to accommodate today's needs. We needed space for a crib and a full bed. The married couples preferred to sleep on a blowup mattress on the floor than to climb into the loft. The loft became a storage shelf for old boxes of toys or unused twin mattresses.

Recently, I purchased a honey-colored bedroom set in an Estate sale. We set it up in the boys' old room, beside the crib and the loft bed. The new bed was welcoming and comfortable for Jeff and Allison when they visited last month with their two-week-old son. They said they slept great even though the entire household knew they'd been up several times for Miles.

After the new parents left for their home in Lancaster, I tidied up. The room looked ridiculously crowded with the loft towering against the wall. It was obvious what had to go.

One day last week I listed the loft bed on Craig's list. Yesterday, David and Matt helped a stranger carry loft bed pieces to his car. I watched the Olympics and thought what color to paint our guest room. Miles might like blue walls, but, of course, Alea liked pink. Green might be a good compromise for grandchildren and grown children.

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