Saturday, February 23, 2013

A bit of a slog

In preparation for these alleged home renovations that may be coming, I've been going through the boxes in my basement. I took a lot of boxes when my dad moved out of the house where I grew up. I also have several boxes of pictures, letters and mementos, and have saved a bunch of Mr W's stuff.

It has added up to a lot of boxes.

Since I haven't gone through the stuff since my divorce, I have just now thrown away (or given away, or recycled, as appropriate) things I didn't want anymore that pertained to shared memories from when I was married. This has been weird. I saved pictures of me and Mr W's dad, and put them in the box of his mementos, but I don't want them. I mean, he should be able to see his parents' wedding picture, right? At the same time, it feels like throwing away a part of 15 years of my life. A bit of conundrum, but it felt like the right thing to do with all the things I jettisoned. I still had all the response cards and some invitations from my wedding. And all of the greeting card-type cards we received. I recycled all that stuff.

One thing I'm particularly grateful for is that when I was away at college, I exchanged letters with people. My sister, and my mom too. I'm so grateful to have these kind of mundane documentations of our lives. I have lots of letters from friends too, and kept just about all of them. It makes me want to try to get back to writing letters. It's such a deliberate thing, writing letters. I found a picture of my younger brother and our mom at his high school graduation, and will send it to him and write a little letter to accompany it.

I also found a copy of the last thing my mom wrote, when she was very sick and knew she wasn't going to make it. It was divided into practical things, saying to return things to stores that she had purchased (that's how fast it happened - six weeks. We were blindsided), the songs she wanted at her funeral, her request not to have any heroic measures to prolong her life, and then a couple of lines saying how sorry she was that things ended up like they did and that she loved us all very much.

I felt like someone punched me. I howled in my empty house. But it doesn't change anything. It's in the past and it is done. All I can do is honor her memory (my sister's, too) and live a well-lived life. I was still very sad for a while.

It was a lot of loss to feel in one afternoon. Although I've been working on the boxes for a while, there were a couple today that just got to me. But I keep telling myself there are a finite number of boxes, and once I've gone through them, I can put them away and be done with it. But the process of going through the boxes and organizing the basement, as well as proceeding with the remodeling, they mean something. There's a process underfoot and it's supposed to happen. I don't know if it's finally an acknowledgement that I am really truly on my own (but taking care of myself) or what, but suspect it will become clearer in hindsight.

Thanks for reading this ramble.


  1. Passages of life? I think you've just gone through one of yours, m'dear. Having an experience such as going through those boxes makes us realize how temporary and fragile life is. I love your statement that the best thing to do is honor your mom and sister and live a good live yourself.

    This "forced" sorting, choosing to keep or discard . . . oh yeah, you be movin' on . . . in a good, healthy way! I'm taking a lesson from you. Thanks.

    1. But it's painful! Ouch! Growing pains, I suppose. Thanks for your insights, MP.

  2. It's a process!

    Going through our mother's things two years ago turned out to be an easier process for my sister and me than we anticipated. We laughed much more than we cried and were reminded of so many stories throughout.

    Now I need to get on to the twenty or so boxes of school papers stored under the basement stairs! I couldn't bear to throw any of it away so I kept it all from both of my sons. Insanity associated with motherhood, I expect.

    I have found that writing about these rites of passage helps, too. Gives your thoughts an unexpected form at times, helps you (me, too) find the life lesson hidden inside.


Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.