86: Time to Let Go

86: Time to Let Go

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

Time to Let Go

To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.

~Margaret Fairless Barber

Ginny and I prepared for our move from New Jersey to Idaho. We assessed the basement and then the garage. Twenty-four years of my stuff stared back at us.

“Mike, if we’re going to move ourselves to Idaho, we need to get rid of a lot of this.”

“Gin, this is my stuff.” I turned to her. “I don’t want to get rid of my stuff.”

“Mike, look at all these books. We don’t need them. When was the last time you read these Reader’s Digest Condensed Books? You never read them.” We walked into the garage. “That ladder!” She pointed to my twenty-foot aluminum extension ladder. “When was the last time you used that?”

“Well…” I scratched my balding head. “I guess it was about ten years ago.”

“What about the crib? We aren’t going to have a baby. It’s old and unsafe. Michael, it’s time to let go.”

“But, Gin …”

“Michael!”

I relented. “You’re right, hon. There’s a lot that needs to go.”

We had a twenty-seven foot truck to move 2,500 miles to Idaho.

Our three-bedroom home would never fit in the truck. I had decisions to make.

I spent a week going through the things I’d accumulated. We sold a few things, including the ladder. A lot of things we gave away. In the back corner of the garage was the box I dreaded. After Georgia died, I tried to go through it, but failed. The memories it contained and the raw pain it inflicted were too much for me to handle. At the time, I closed it up and put it in the corner.

Ginny was upstairs. It was a task I needed to confront alone.

I lifted the box, sat it in the center of the garage, and opened it. It held cards my children made for me and my first wife. Crayon drawings from the past stared back at me. I found cards Georgia gave me for Christmases and birthdays and cards I gave her.

Tears spilled down my cheeks, but they were tears of joy. I lost her, but I still had the memories. Things change, but memories keep the past alive.

I grabbed two empty boxes and filled them with memories to give my son and daughter. All the drawings, cards and ornaments they created for us were distributed between them. When they gave them to us twenty years ago, I made a point to write their names and dates on them.

On the two boxes, I wrote their names and put them aside.

Before we left for Idaho, my daughter drove from Ohio to see us in New Jersey.

We’d already planned for Vanessa to take many of her mom’s things back to Ohio with her. She took the dishes that belonged to her grandmother, pictures, and anything else she wanted.

Vanessa and I sat on my deck one night. “Dad?”

I looked up. Her eyes had the sparkle of fresh tears. “Yes?”

She reached out and held my hand. “Dad, would you mind if I took Mom home with me?” She was referring to her mother’s urn. “I’m happy to have her dishes, but I want her to come home with me too.”

I thought about the little shrine I’d created for Georgia — my first wife. Her urn sat on the credenza, surrounded by the little teddy bears I bought her when she was in the hospital. They’ve been there for five years. On special occasions, I’d pour a glass of wine and toast her memory.

Vanessa stared at me, waiting for an answer. “Vanessa, you’re right. Georgia should be with you.” I held her hand. “I have Ginny in my life now. It’s time I focused on the present and not the past. It’s time to let go.”

A few days later, we pulled away from the curb with everything we owned in the back of the truck. I looked back as my home of five years faded from view.

We turned the corner. It was gone. Ginny grabbed my hand. “Look, hon!” She pointed forward.

“What? I don’t see anything.”

“Mike, it’s the future. It’s ahead.”

I put my arm around her. “You’re right, Gin. I see it. It’s time to stop looking back — time to move forward — time to let go.”

~Michael T. Smith

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