‘Coming Home’ by Marjorie Waters is a personal essay which describes the author’s feelings upon returning home after a long time and how she recovers from her deep grief caused by losing a loved one to death. The author narrates how she walks around the house, pulling back the curtains, dusting the dirt off, making tea etc., doing chores that make her feel at home again. Simultaneously, she is opening the doors of her soul to freshen it with the feeling of ‘coming back to home’, to finally realise that the bad phase doesn’t last forever.
The author begins by writing ‘After the cruelest of winters, the house still stood’. Literally, this line reflects the entire essence of this essay. She makes an analogy between coming home and the end of her grief.
She writes about how surprised she is to see her house in a good condition in spite of the havoc wreaked upon it by the wilderness of the nature.
Though there were a few breakages here and there, it still stood firmly. Similarly, there too had been a wild ‘winter’ in her life, the death of a beloved one that had broken her from the inside. Homecoming, after a long time, was the end of her grief. She goes in the rooms, pulls back the curtain so that the daylight drives away the long lingering darkness that there was, as the dust particles shimmer in the light and settle back again. During the night, she makes for herself a cup of tea, and reminisces about the sudden and tragic death of her beloved one, which had almost completely destroyed her zest for life.
She thinks about what the passers-by, obviously the neighbours, would say when they look at the house, the windows of which now are open and the light in the rooms now illuminates the house. Her return to her place would be known. She reminisces about the dark time period in her life which had left her lurking in the past, which had cut her loose from everything that made her feel at home. She was caught in her ‘own cold storm’. When people came to offer her condolences, they would only talk about the burden of loss but actually, all she felt was ‘weightlessness’. She felt that the world had pushed her away, the distance she would never be able to cover. But the winter had passed and so had her grief. The author writes, ‘I had feared that, in my absence, the space that I had left behind would close over from misuse’.
She implies that she had been afraid that this tragedy might cause such melancholy that she would never be able to come out of it, just like she feared that the gruesome winters would destroy the house. But the house had survived and she too had managed to pull out the strength in her and face the reality. She revives with a new enigma of hope that life will get better, that the grief will not always let the sadness prevail. According to me, the title of the lesson is very much appropriate. She equates the harsh season of the winters to the tragedy that occurred in her life. By ‘coming home’, she hasn’t just come back to a place where she once lived, she has come back to herself, to realise that the ‘winter’ of her life is gone. The grief could no longer sustain, and she had come out if it. She had finally come home, and come back to herself.