Sorting Through a Life

My kids say that once I die they are going to want to kill me.  I have a lot of stuff. They are NOT looking forward to sorting through it.  Hey I get it.  I had to clear my grandma’s, each of my parents and an uncle’s home.  It can be perplexing and tedious. It can feel like a strange unlooked for responsibility.  It can also be joyful.

Nothing is as personal as your private things.  If you are left in the position of sorting out someones belongings, you are privileged.  It is your honor to handle their memories and to decide how to preserve the meaningful while disposing of the unnecessary.  Being the sorter means you were loved and trusted , privy to the innermost circle of someone’s life.

Yes, you will be frustrated at the amount of paperwork perhaps, and face the quandary of where everything will go.  But you will also stop and cry, laugh and remember.  You will rejoice at having had this person touch your life, and sorrow at things left unsaid and the finality of the moment.  In your sentimentality you will probably hold on to more than you should.  It is always hard to let go.

I look around my bedroom and see a strange assortment of objects.  Antique clocks that were my ancestors, a collection of medieval figures, a garden gnome that made me laugh, the books that brought me joy, an angel that my mom chose for me…am I sounding like a packrat?  Perhaps a little, but I keep these things because they make me smile.  They are the happiness of being loved and sharing moments with family and friends.  Because I run a theater business I will leave behind interesting props and more scripts than anyone could need. I will leave cards and notes and photographs. I will leave flashes of my passions.

I surround myself with the things I love. I hope my sorters do the same.  They will not love or appreciate the same memories I did. That is perfectly okay.  I do not want them holding on to unnecessary junk they will never look at again but keep because they feel guilty. I shudder at the thought of a shrine.  Objects are not important, except perhaps as a representation of the time you shared together.  My sorters should feel free to throw away whatever they wish. I truly have no expectations.   I am no longer part of this world.

They are.  I wish them to keep anything that brings them joy or a laughing memory of the time we shared.  Maybe they will each only keep one thing and dispose of the rest.  As long as it is a thing that is meaningful I have managed to leave them with one last gift. Though I can no longer be physically present I have shared a moment of intimacy with them, a final “I love you.”

Unfortunately for my kids they WILL someday have to sort through my stuff.  I will try to be kind and keep organized. There will still be piles they aren’t going to know what to do with, mutters of “why on earth did she keep this” and “oh, mom”s floating around.  I also hope there will be smiles and moments of the life we shared together, and that they stop their busy lives just for a moment to feel my echo in their heart.  This is one last thing they can do for me and I ask it of them with all the love in my heart.


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