Some would say I'm a natural hoarder - blame my mother. I like shit around me that reminds me of shit. Ain't nothing wrong with that. Until, of course, there's more shit than you can deal with around you. I save papers, cards, receipts, pictures, medical bills, newspapers, magazines - you get the picture.
From time to time, it all gets to me. A suffocation if you will. I need to cleanse. A cathartic need. But first, I must be reminded one more time of why I have things. So, I sort through all of it. Read all of it. One receipt, card, document at a time. One more time.
I have saved all my medical bills since my cancer diagnosis in January. Now typically that wouldn't be a lot - if one was a fairly healthy person. But, come down with cancer and medical bills fly at you from every direction. Every day. For whatever reason, I thought I'd want to look back at all those piles years from now to be reminded of what I'd been through. Crazy I know, there's not much logic to it I get that. None the less, here we are. A bag full of old (luckily paid) medical invoices, doctor notes, and receipts. I don't need those to remind me of this fight. Hell, every time I look in the mirror I'm reminded. My hair has gone grey. My breasts are gone. My fingers are numb my finger nails black and thick. There's enough "reminders" to go around. So today, I said good-bye to that pile of paper and good-bye to the need to keep it around me.
I've also become the "family keeper of old pictures and stuff". My grandma, Arline, on my mother’s side was the family historian. I only wish I took the time to sit with her even more than I did to write down the history of my maternal side of the family. She knew it all and had every-single-picture-ever-
When she died in 2006, she passed on the "keeper" status to my mom, Nela, but only because they shared a home. My mom was not the nostalgic-kinda gal. But she kept everything Grandma had saved over the decades, some of it centuries old.
When my mom passed in 2012, that role fell to me and my brother. As we cleaned out the home my mother was born and raised and died in, we lovingly sorted through what remained of our family history. Boxes and boxes of pictures of people we did not know and had no way to identify stayed in lowa with my dad (who is our family historian on my paternal side).
None the less, I brought multiple boxes of memories back with me. Along with records and receipts surrounding my mom's death, her banking records, estate related documents, keepsakes I couldn't bear to part with so close to her death. For the most part, this stuff has remained in unopened boxes, stacked in our spare room, shoved into the attic. Until today.
I went through every piece of "memory". Every card of sympathy and well-wish Everything. In doing so, I re-lived the pain and sorrow, the hurt and anger and confusion of losing my mom at 66. Of having cancer at 53. Re-lived it all. Felt it all. Let go of it all. And then I mowed my yard.
And so on the day before a massive category 4/5 hurricane is to come crashing all around my brother and his family in Fort Lauderdale - I am anxious and nervous and a bit sick to my stomach at what may come to pass - I cranked up my SONOS to Pandora's 70's station, built a fire in the back yard, and said good-bye to stuff that no longer mattered. And in the process, rid myself of the heaviness, the sadness of it all.
Liz will be proud I've "purged". After all, our goal is to squeeze ourselves in about 1,000 square foot condo (God-willing it's still standing after Irma) in due time. To reach that goal is gonna take many more days like today. But I have started. I've started saying good-bye to memories and to stuff that holds no healthy purpose to me going forward. In the years - decades- I have left on this Earth, I vow to be surrounded with what is "today", what may be " tomorrow". And I will hold what "was" close to my heart - where it belongs.