Clutching. That’s what we’ve been doing for the past month. Clutching to anything that reminds us of her. This is the reason I walked out of her apartment yesterday with a box of tchotchkes I never would have wanted a mere month ago, when she was still here, when I still had her in my life. But wanting to see, hear, smell and touch someone, yet knowing you can’t, produces unexpected reactions to “stuff” — the stuff she saw, heard, touched and smelled every day for many, many years. The stuff that reminds me of her.
“What the hell am I doing?” I laugh as I maneuver a wall hanging into my trunk. “You’re grieving,” my sister responds, grabbing one end of the frame. “You’re moving through it. This is all part of it.” She’s right. The wall hanging is big, it’s not especially attractive, the frame is broken, and pieces of metal are falling off of it. But it seeing it transports me to when I was a kid, when I would visit Grandma and Grandpa’s house, this idyllic place. I can’t bear to think of it getting dusty on a shelf at the local Goodwill. So I rescue it. For a brief moment, I have the illusion of control.
The last hand-written note Grandma gave me has been sitting on my buffet for a couple of months. I hand it to Mom. A tangible reminder. Something recent. Something to help her— maybe to help me, too. Her eyes well up as she reads it and hands it back to me. “Nice,” she murmurs. “So nice, Jenno.” I place it back on the buffet. After Mom leaves that night, I open it.
My dear Jenny —- Thank you for your time, talent, but most of all, love in writing my memories. The book is beautiful and proof positive I’ve been blessed abundantly!
The “stuff” will come and go. Some of the really meaningful things, the family heirlooms, will belong to my daughter someday. As Grandma always used to say, “You can’t take it with you.” But her words—these heartfelt and hopefully prophetic words—will remain with me forever.
I pray you continue to use your writing talent for the enjoyment of others…
With love and gratitude,