So, I’m one of those folks who saves things. Over the last decade I’ve tried to become more discriminating about what I consider a keepsake. This cutback in keeping things was motivated by the fact that I lived in a small space with two other pack rats. My husband was a “collector” of things – hats, t shirts, matchbooks, golf tees – really almost anything. I am a collector of mementos and clothes that I think will last forever. Well, to my horror, our first born son is the most extreme collector – he becomes attached to everything…rocks, sticks, paper, toys…this list goes on and on! Well, to become a teacher by example, I began to thin out my collection years ago but there are things that I just keep. When my husband died, this memento issue became a BIG issue. What should I keep for my boys? What possessions and collections of Dave’s would mean something to their future and their memories of their dad?
Over the years since his death, I have been weeding through his things trying to let go. Unfortunately for those of us, who lose someone, our loved ones really can’t take their stuff with them – I think it would be easier if they did get to travel with all their stuff! I have made serious progress in slimming his collections. I still have stuff – of course – but much less than I started with and hopefully the things that I’ve given away have given something to someone else.
Well, one of the silly things I keep is a plant that was given to us when Dave died. It’s just a philodendron, but somehow, I convince myself that it is important. I have put some things in with the plant. I have placed two of the dried roses from one of the arrangements at his funeral. I don’t know why, but I am attached to them.
Well, did I mention I have some new kitties? Well, these new kitties have found their way up on top of my refrigerator where the plant lives and seem addicted to pulling out and destroying the dried roses. About a week ago, I found crumblings of one of the roses on the kitchen floor. I dutifully swept them up and put the remains of the rose back in the planter. A day later, more crumbs and the stub of the dried rose were on the floor again – they are quite committed kitties! So, I cleaned it up and threw the remains of my memento away – I still had one left, so losing one is ok – I think to myself. Well, this morning, the second rose was in shambles on the kitchen floor surrounded by dried up crumbs. So, now I don’t know why, but this time it was easy – I just swept up the entire mess and tossed it all out. I no longer have dried flowers from my husband’s funeral – and it’s ok. The new life in my house, my lovely, playful, exuberant kittens have removed yet another symbol of the sadness of my husband’s death for me. I like that! As hard as it is to move farther away from the time he walked the planet, it just keeps happening. The new life I build continues to break down the barriers that remind me of the saddest moments in my life. That being said, I still am very sad that my husband is gone and still long for him daily – I don’t think the kittens can rid me of that – that is my work alone…what I do know is that it is more tolerable now. I do know that the mementos I can part with do not diminish my memory of him or his existence. At first after he died there was almost a compulsion to keep his things. In my mind, if I kept his things, he was still here. Now I know different-his physical presence that I knew is gone and no memento can bring that back. His loving presence in my life will never go away and will always be a part of my and my children’s lives…and no memento can change that either. So while, I will still have some things that remind me of special moments, I won’t have two closets full! And even though my closets full of mementos empty, my heart will remain full of the love I was blessed enough to experience through my husband now and forever – and with death – that did not part.