Things keep piling up. No matter how much I clean, give away, or throw out things continue to accumulate. Thousands of photos stored. Coats that I still might wear. Books I might read again or I might not. The books become friends and we all need friends even if we must dust them off now and again.
Paring down bulky items, I donated two music trophies to Goodwill. They were probably antiques because I hear trophies are no long metal. I took off the plates with what the trophies were for and I put them in some drawer. The purpose in saving them, only a reminder that I once won awards in music. The softball trophy I keep on my shelf still. Most people know about my music and how I used it. Few people know I was once good at softball. It felt important to keep the sports trophy as proof of my identity as a dyke. Silly isn’t it…or sad.
What do I have to prove at my age? Who will care about my memories or accomplishments when I’m gone? My diplomas hang now in the music room at church, my icons of hard work and dedication. My fellow musician, another childless person, is excited for the opportunity to hang her credentials with mine. At least one day perhaps someone will see our contributions as vital to the life of the church.
This is not self-pity to think on these things. My family is still sifting through the junk accumulated by my pack rat of a dad. He’s been gone a year and a half, almost two. My mother seems to have just as much stuff. When it’s my time to go, I want it not to be a chore for whoever must empty my remaining space. Can I leave treasures instead? Handwritten notes from friends and family. Books that speak of the goodness of life. Things that might matter to a stranger as well as a family member?
My life is strong and I think on these things because I never want to hoard, but also because I live with a 94-year-old who continues to distribute her possessions to the proper family member, someone who would appreciate an item for its history or use. She’s not being morbid about it, only practical. Still, when it’s her time to go, there are things that no one will want; things that are too painful to see and remember loss or things that only she liked anyway.
What should I keep in this transient life? I will keep love remembered and forget the pain. I will keep the joys, but also the sorrow for,wherever there has been sorrow, Joy eventually took its place. Sorrow is also a teacher, even if the lesson is not one we wanted to learn. I will hold on to my friends and family members and embrace forgiveness. I never needed those grudges any way.