It’s a Process…

I have come to realize that we let go of our loved ones little by little, day by day, not all at once. Holding on to their things might be a way of holding on to them for just a little longer. I needed to wear that old crocheted sweater a few more times, and hold that copper and brass crucifix, and look at those antique pink juice glasses in my own china cabinet. I needed to read her journals, as much as I could anyway, so I would understand more deeply who she was. I still have those things even though I don’t “need” them. Part of her is there, in those few possessions, so that part of her is here with me.

So, while we continue our personal purge, my mother’s things have merged with my things. The longer I have them, the less I need them. I will keep some of her stuff for a while longer, creating my own suffering in the name of my attachment to her. A “heavy duty” oak dining room set quickly becomes another thing to just donate somewhere. Her sweaters are still in a box in my storage shed, waiting for their next body to warm. All that crystal, and fake crystal, has yet to see the light of day in my house. I’m not sure if it will live here. I’m not ready to adopt it just yet. But I can’t just let it go, not just yet.

There are a few “things” that feel emotionally heavier than others. Those solid wood antique Colonial chairs that we sat in while we were growing up are still a slight burden to my heart. I’ve looked at them, sat in them, remembered the hot, sweaty nights in SC, eating chicken and canned vegetables, watching my father finish his dinner with cornbread and buttermilk topped off with raw green onions like it was chocolate cake. I waited for him so I could wash his dishes. He took his time.

Those chairs contain both safety and misery. Someone will use them one day, oblivious to the history that makes them seem more solid and substantial. I’ll let them go when my heart is ready. For now, they are in limbo with me and my broken memories.

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Attachment comes and goes. I keep reminding myself, it’s not the stuff that matters. It’s the memories. But sometimes it is the stuff that matters. I would not have had that memory without possessing those chairs. And now, I can let that memory go when I’m ready. Just like the chairs.

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