WE’VE BEEN CLEANING up, clearing out, readying for a change we’ve known for a while was coming. We’re empty nesters now, you see, and we simply don’t need the space. I love our home, our pretty yard, I love the vast collection of things which have come to reside with us over the course of our lives. And so I’m finding the process daunting. It’s overwhelming, really, and highly emotional. Every WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS choice feels as if it carries with it the weight of generations.
They are just things, I remind myself over and over, a thought which should bring clarity and comfort. But next comes a quick yeah, right, things my great-grandmother saved, and my grandmother saved, and my mother saved. Things which are now entrusted to me.
FOR HER PART, my daughter has little interest.
It is a truth of her generation, I think, how they place value on “having less” and “doing more.” Their lives are fuller, more flexible. They are more mobile, better able to take advantage of opportunities and experiences as they come along.
I believe it to be a good, healthy thing.
AND SO I OPEN another box. This one is filled with things that came from my mother’s house, part of a large haul we loaded up and brought here in the busy days, years ago, of emptying her home. I lift out an old high school–or is it college?–yearbook, 1951-1952, and I see tucked below a collection of letters addressed in my hand. I must have sent these to my parents, yes here’s one from camp, a few from college, several from my earliest days as a working girl living three states away. I had not remembered writing even one, and I certainly had no idea Mom was keeping the silly things, the news inside amounting to not one thing of significance. (I would have guessed I was much more profound in those days, but sadly, the letters prove otherwise.) Still I wipe away a tear, I pull them close against my chest and look to the heavens and tell my mother how much it means to me that all these years, she kept them. And in that moment I know they have done what they needed to do. They have reminded me that their existence mattered, and they have released me to now let them go.
I toss the letters to the side, and I reach into the box to discover what comes next.