Growing up, I saw friends and family die and that things changed with each loss. Embedded in my mind was the idea that when someone died you had to clear out all they owned and share the left behind articles with other family members. A clear memory still is cleaning out a majority of stuff–just stuff, okay, really a lot of it was junk–that my husband and I had collected over the years. During the last month of his life, my Leo cried out in anguish, “After I’m gone, you’re going to get rid of all my stuff.”
I was quick to reassure him that no I wouldn’t. It was his stuff and I would always treasure it. Even then, I knew I was lying and he did as well, but it calmed him and he was reassured that I would always treasure him above all else. Things became a lot more practical months after he died and tons, literally tons of stuff, again just read that as junk, went out the door and to the trash. He wasn’t there to help organize, sort, and decide. No one was.
Now, it’s my turn and I really am enjoying handing out all the things held so dear over the years to my children. Cliff, Michele, and I with much needed assistance from Asher, Caleb (a cousin), and Bechan went through over a thousand books which truthfully was about half of what I used to have. It was hard to let go of my beloved books, but it became so much easier as I watched my grandchildren delight in finding all the treasures hidden within the stacks. Asher found Star Wars books that had belonged to his Dad when he was young and the look in his eyes made it all worthwhile. Dad’s worth went up many notches in that moment. We found an album that I had made when Cliff was newborn and one of my days in the Marine Corps. Such fun to see it all again. Nick comes next month and it will be more of the same. Alicia will wait until she is settled by her choice.
Although there are items that will remain with me until death, it is ultimately fantastic to share these family items filled with my memories with my children. It’s right that they take these memories so that the love we all shared as they grew can fill their homes and lives.