“I don’t want to grow up”

My child has no interest in being an adult, which makes me wonder what she hears her dad and me saying. Then it makes perfect sense.

Debt. Black mold. Mortgage. Death. Weight. Loans. Responsibility. Health. Dentists. Voting. Jobs. Work. The economy. Guns. Colonoscopy.

So, yes, if that’s all I ever heard, I probably wouldn’t want to grow up either.

When I was in junior high my older brother and sister were in high school and were being pretty typical teenagers. I said to my mother one day, ” I will never be like them.”  And I wasn’t.  I was much much worse.

Because what my daughter doesn’t  know, and what my junior high self did not know, was that there are these things called hormones which kick in and for a little while take over your life. You learn to manage them – eventually – and by the mid-twenties the frontal lobe finally develops and things begin to calm down. Then before you know it you’re 51 and tired and there’s black mold in the basement and your kid doesn’t want to be an adult.

But in just a few years she’ll start to think boys are kind of interesting (or maybe girls, just to be fair.) She will want to drive the car and have more independence than her bicycle currently affords. She will want to go away to college as far away from us as possible, in South Africa maybe, or the Arctic Circle.

For some (but not all) there is this little golden time when you get your first taste of independence before responsibility sets in. For me, it was at the end of high school and the beginning of college, when my biggest worries were exams and which Icelandic sweater pattern I should start next.

Job interviews were a wake-up call, as was getting fired from my third job. Going to everyone else’s wedding without having one of my own introduced me to the loneliness sneaks up in adulthood. Also, buying my first vacuum cleaner: a sure sign that I was truly on my own.

I pray my daughter will grow up and live every moment between now and then, the good, the bad, and the pimply.  Because as an adult I have learned that life is to be lived, not rehearsed or perfected.

Talking with my child about race

racismLast night my daughter and I attended a one-woman show that our church was sponsoring.  Damaris Webb, a native Portlander and actress, presented “The Box Marked Black: Tales from a Halfrican-American growing up Mulatto.  With sock puppets!”  If you live in the Portland area, I urge you to google Damaris Webb and see her next show.

On the way over to church, my daughter said, “Mom, I’m the only one in my class who doesn’t know what the N-word is.” On the one hand, it occurred to me we might be getting something right – she doesn’t know that word, and she’s never heard us say it.  On the other hand, I’d like for us to teach her about that word.  So I told her that she might hear it in the show, and we would talk about it on the way home.

And so we did.  She heard the word twice, but I’m not sure it registered with her as much as the scene with sock puppet Kizzy from “Roots” and sock puppet Laura from “Little House on the Prairie”.  (It made sense within the show, and was rather hilarious.)  We talked about the N-word, and how she was never allowed to say it.  The closest parallel I could make for her was that using the N-word is like Hermione Granger being called a Mudblood in the Harry Potter books.  I’m not sure she knows the B-word or the C-word, so I thought Harry Potter was a safer reference.

And then, because it came up in the show, we talked about the mini-series “Roots”.  She knows a little bit about slavery and the Civil War – she knows more about the Civil Rights Movement.  I said to her, “Do you know how people got slaves?  They were captured in Africa and crammed into ships and taken to the United States where they were sold.”

“That’s TERRIBLE,” she said.  “They are human beings!  They aren’t things.” Then we talked about the people who knew slavery was wrong and fought it for a long time, and we talked about the Civil War.  “Mom,” she said, “if we hadn’t won the Civil War and if the slaves weren’t freed, there would be so many people who wouldn’t be in my class.  There would be so many teachers who wouldn’t be at my school.”

When my daughter was a toddler, I read an article saying the right thing to do was not to teach your child to be color-blind.  Rather, allow your child to see the differences, and talk about them.  So that has been our approach in teaching our child about race.  Yes, people look different.  That doesn’t mean they should be treated differently.  But because some people look different, they are treated differently, that’s wrong.

I hope we have more of these conversations, and I hope I said the right things to a nine-year-old.  The conversation will be different when she is 12, or 16, or 21.  I hope she continues to feel the injustice of slavery, of racism, of prejudice.

But I think our upcoming conversation will be a little different: we passed a sign that read “Best Ass Contest”; she said, “Mom, that’s so funny but I don’t think it’s about donkeys.”  God, help us parents.

Kindness/Despair

“Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things.

feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
* * * * *
“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.”

excerpted from “Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye,
from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems (1995)

despair“Despair is strangely the last bastion of hope; the wish being that if we cannot be found in the old way we cannot ever be touched or hurt in that way again.  Despair is the sweet but illusory abstraction of leaving the body while still inhabiting it, so we can stop the body from feeling anymore.  Despair is the place that we go when we no longer want to make a home in the world and where we feel, with a beautifully cruel form of satisfaction, that we may never have deserved that home in the first place. Despair, strangely, has its own sense of achievement, and despair, even more strangely, needs despair to keep it alive.”
excerpted from “Despair” by David Whyte, from Consolations, 2015

Last fall my friend Lila killed herself.  She was a member of our congregation.  She lived a life I might have had: she was my age, never married, took care of her two beloved cats.  She probably heard that she had such a pretty face, if only she would lose some weight.  She was generous and kind and hilarious and lived with bi-polar disorder until she decided she didn’t want to live with bi-polar disorder anymore and she ended her life.

The other night my daughter and I were cuddled in the comfy chair and we started talking about people she knew who had died.  The list is short, and I am grateful for that.  But being the child of two pastors, my daughter hears about death more than the average eight year old.  She knows that sometimes we rush to the hospital, or are called away in the middle of the night.  She knows that sometimes she has an extended playdate on a Saturday because Mom and Dad are at church for a memorial service.

So we were talking about the people she knew who had died, and Lila was mentioned.  “Mom,” my daughter said, “how did Lila die?” We hadn’t told her.  Maybe at the time we were too bruised to try to explain to a child why someone so lovely would not want to live any more; maybe we didn’t have the courage or didn’t want to face the sadness.  But she asked, and I answered.  “Honey, I’m so sorry, but Lila killed herself.”

Sigh.

“Why?”  “Well, her brain didn’t always work just right, and sometimes her brain made her so wildly happy she couldn’t keep it to herself, and sometimes her brain made her so sad she didn’t think she would ever stop being sad.  I think one day she decided she didn’t want to be sad like that anymore.  I think it hurt so much and she didn’t want to hurt anymore.”  I did the best I could to explain despair to a child, all the while hoping and praying that my child will not ever know it.

This week two different friends on Facebook posted poems/essays, one “Kindness” and the other “Despair”.  They showed up in my news feed the same day, the day I would later have the conversation with my daughter.  I found deep wisdom in both and in a way, they were companions to each other, acknowledging the depth of these things, the paradox of them.  To understand kindness you must first understand sorrow.  Despair is the last bastion of hope.

I don’t want to diagram these words or exegete them but neither do I want to toss them away like last Sunday’s sermon.  They feel heaven-sent in a way, so thank you, Carol and Ken, for being angels in sharing them.

And I wish I knew what Lila would say about them.

“We take the first steps out of despair by taking on its full weight and coming fully to ground in our wish not to be here.  We let our bodies and we let our world breathe again.  In that place, strangely, despair cannot do anything but change into something else, into some other season, as it was meant to do from the beginning.”

“Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then it goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.”

elephant mettha

The Unknown Owl

eastern-screech-owl-georgia_67926_990x742This past summer while on vacation, my husband and I took a walk in the woods with our dog. I’ve walked this particular path hundreds of times – the woods are on property my extended family has owned since the 1940’s.

Anway, it was dusk and we wanted to take the puppy out for his evening constitutional. The sun had mostly set; it had been a clear day and it promised to be a beautiful evening. As we entered the woods we heard an owl, and as we walked deeper into the darkness, we heard the owl (or what we presumed to be the owl) following us.

I love owls, and I give J. K. Rowling a good bit of credit for that. I also love them because I think they are beautiful, and they eat mice and insects and make a pretty sound. But for some reason, this owl spooked me a bit. I don’t find the woods scary, and I wasn’t alone, and I love owls, but something was amiss.

It was the puppy. At the time the dog weighed about six pounds. He’s a little thing and always will be. And this owl was following us, and I didn’t know if it was just being friendly or if the puppy appeared to be a tasty morsel.

Now I know most owls avoid puppies for dinner. Or I think I know that. Just writing that I worried that the owl would eat my dog makes me realize how ridiculous the thought was – in lawsa bit like that scene from the original movie The In-Laws, where Peter Falk as the maybe mentally imbalanced CIA agents tells Alan Arkin as the hyper normal dentist about the time the giant tsetse flies flew away with the babies from the village.

Still, my husband and I turned around, and I carried the puppy, and we left those woods.

What made it amiss was the realization that I was responsible for a vulnerable creature. Our dog was with us, and we needed to protect it from whatever real predators were out there. The problem is that I don’t know if the predator was real or imaginary.

Everyday people have to decide how to protect the vulnerable from predators imaginary or real. We’re doing it right now with Syria; we do it as we think about how to spend taxpayers’ money in aid programs; we do it as we clarify rights for the mentally and physically disabled. We do it with our kids and with our elderly and with those who look so normal and fine who a few of us know are really in anguish.

The threat of the owl seemed so real; the vulnerability of my puppy was so real. And there I was, at the end of dusk, trying to see what to do.

Not an epic fail, but maybe a holy one

this pictures captures what the story was about

this pictures captures what the story was about

Yesterday in my sermon I committed the cardinal sin of pastor-parents: I told a story about my child without getting her permission.  Rookie mistake for this pastor of 20 years, but there you are.  It just fit so well into the sermon, and we had talked about it but in my mind we had not settled the matter.  But as it says in Galatians 6:7 (part of the passage I preached on) “you reap what you sow.”

So I’m in the first third of the sermon; my husband is sitting on the chancel near me and our daughter is sitting by herself in the front pew, as she usually does.  She hears me telling the story and she begins to cry, prostrating herself on the lovely needle-pointed pew cushion, weeping for not all but many to see and hear.  Crap.  Just the word the preacher wants to hear in her head while she is delivering the beautiful word of God.

I can handle a lot in worship.  I can handle crying babies, coughing parishioners, people who live on the streets wandering up and looking at the offering plates, fainters, barfers, organ ciphers, mangled liturgy, and laryngitis, but what absolutely does me in is when I have to be pastor and mom at the same time.  It doesn’t happen very often but when it does I become completely unglued – maybe because I suspect I’m not particularly good at either one, or maybe because it feels like both demand so much of my being.

So in the first third of my sermon, while my daughter is crying, I break the fourth wall of sorts, interrupt myself, and ask my husband to sit with her, which he does.  I then resume preaching, talking about accountability when we do something wrong, and being in community in our suffering, and reconciling with brother or sister before coming to the communion table.  And did I mention we celebrated communion yesterday?

At the end of the sermon, I issued this invitation to the congregation:

“I don’t know if gathered here this morning are people who are at odds with each other; sheer numbers would suggest that there are. I’m not going to ask  that we now pause for a minute for reconciliation – that would be putting all of us on the spot. But perhaps in the silence after the sermon, we might think of those we are at odds with. We might think about them, and about bearing their burden, about carrying our own load, about forgiveness and grace. We might imagine, as we all say the Lord’s Prayer during communion, sitting next to that person, and saying the prayer with them.”

It was so nice of the Holy Spirit to provide me with an opportunity to practice what I preach, and during the silence after the sermon I thought about how I could check in with my daughter before going to the table.  My husband/co-pastor came back up and said she was fine, mostly because one of her friends sweetly came up and sat with her and got her out of her funk.  During communion, my daughter passed by all the other celebrants to come receive the bread from me, and gave me a hug, and I told her I was sorry and I love her so much.

I thought it was a mediocre sermon that was made worse for the wear by my embarrassing my daughter.  As it turns out, what the congregation heard and saw were opportunities for grace, and realness, and empathy, and kindness, and grace again.

But if I ever tell a story about her again, I will get her permission in writing.

Wandering – but lost?

It’s just one of those ministry days.  A meeting here or there, a little pastoral care, some reading to prep for class, checking the calendar to make sure I’m not missing anything.  And two encounters with homelessness that have gotten me to thinking but not drawing any conclusions.

Our congregation participates in a Portland project allowing people experiencing homelessness to sleep in their cars overnight in our parking lot.  It’s not a great solution; it’s a pretty terrible one, but sometimes it’s the best choice some folks have.  We work with a shelter that provides a temporary “home” for families and helps them find more permanent homes, and today I met with a family that will be our parking lot guests until a space at the shelter opens.

If you met these people at McDonalds or Safeway, you wouldn’t think twice about where they lay their heads at night.  A mom, a dad, a rambunctious two-year-old boy, a sweet girl almost one and almost walking.  They were on their way to renting-to-own a house; turns out it was a swindle, and they lost all their money.  They’ve been sleeping in their car for six weeks.  They go camping when they can so they can stretch out in their tent and let the kids run around outside.  Mom and Dad are the biological parents of both kids.  He’s had the same swing-shift job for three years.  She is well-spoken and a very attentive and patient mother, taking classes. And they call their Xterra home, at least for now.  We’ll provide them with a porta-potty, a designated parking space, access to showers and laundry, and prayers.  And probably some diapers and gas cards and cookies, if I know my congregation.

This afternoon I was waiting outside the church entrance with the parents and some of the kids in our children’s choir.  They are on their way to the local university to be real-live subjects for college kids studying to be music teachers.  It’s become an annual outing, and the kids love it.  Riding light rail, going to college, performing for young adults, plus pizza and a movie at the end.  Woo hoo!  Good times.

So we’re outside waiting when a man who is obviously homeless starts coming down the sidewalk.  “Obviously homeless” – that’s telling.  And judgmental of me.  And descriptive.  He had scraggly facial hair, random layered clothes that were stained and too loose.  Shoes that have seen more than I have in my lifetime.  He had that look in his eyes that made me want to usher all the kids inside.  But I’m trying to be a role model here so we stayed and acted non-anxious.

He catches my eye and says something to me that I think is “what time is it?”  I don’t have a watch or phone, and tell him I don’t know.  He asks another mom there “what time is it?”  She tells him 3:30.  He says something else, and she is patient and kind and says, “I’m sorry, I don’t know.”  Then he sees my husband, the co-pastor with me.  He goes nose-to-nose with my husband, tricky because there is a cigarette (unlit) dangling out of his mouth.  He gets a bit belligerant, and the kids notice.  My husband very patiently, very calmly starts to move him along the sidewalk while the rest of us do usher the kids inside.  Now my daughter is beside herself, worried that this man will punch her dad.

My husband comes back; he’s fine.  He comforts my daughter.  The kids all want to know about his guy.  What’s wrong with him?  Why did he act that way? I am blessed to have great adults around.  We say things like “his brain works differently”  “we don’t know what he thought he was seeing” “he’s someone who needs help”.

I don’t even know how to draw a lesson out of these encounters, except to say that many people wander, but not all of them are lost.  But some of them are lost, and have been for a while, and it will take a lot more than cookies and kindness to help them find their way home.

The Pitfalls of Mother’s Day

As I lay in bed snuggling my daughter tonight, I started thinking about people I know for whom tomorrow is going to be difficult – the mother whose daughter was just diagnosed with cancer.  The husband and two daughters whose wife/mother died suddenly earlier this year.  The friend whose relationship with his mother is strained because of deep-held and widely different understandings of what sin is.  The mother of a preschooler and an infant who posted one of those things on Facebook this week about the utter frustration about not being able to get it all done.  The mother who was first to find her daughter’s body.  The woman whose daughter has made bad choice after bad choice, who was treated savagely this last month.

But then there’s the first-time mom, a woman I knew in her twenties, who glows in every picture she posts.

Flowers, chocolates, and sweet cards can’t make up for all the fraught-ness of Mother’s Day.  I dread Mother’s Day in church, knowing that for some it’s right up there with Easter and Christmas and for others it’s a day to avoid the worship and sweetness and light.  Before I met my husband, when my own hope to become a mother was slipping away, silently and ashamedly, I was leading prayers one Mother’s Day.  At the first service, a well-intentioned person asked prayers for all those women who had hoped to become mothers who never did.  I felt as though he had shined a klieg light on all that I was trying to suppress that day.  I made it through that service, and then collapsed. My good colleagues covered for me, but it was excruciating and humiliating.

Why all the fraughtness? Why is Mother’s Day the be-all-end-all for some and the nadir of existence for others?  Does Father’s Day carry the same peculiar heft?  Maybe it goes way back to a time when a woman’s worth was measured by her ability to bear children, especially those of the male variety.  Maybe it has to do with the different emotionality of women (which, I suspect, isn’t really all that different from the emotionality of men.)

But maybe in the end it’s because Mother’s Day is really about life, but pinpointed and concentrated.  Mother’s Day reminds us of how we’ve been loved in this life.  Mother’s Day reminds us of hopes fulfilled and crushed.  Mother’s Day magnifies the grief and the joy, the disappointment and the exhaustion.

This morning my daughter and I painted the door to our garage.  I really wanted to do it by myself, so I could get it right; she really wanted to do it with me, because she loves me and loves to be with me.  Seven years into this mother-thing, I have figured that part out.  It’s not about being perfect; it’s not about the flowers and chocolate and matching apron and oven mitts that I know are waiting for me tomorrow.

It is about the moments, the little moments of squirting paint, and getting out splinters, and shouting and making up.  The grief and the disappointment and the frustration lurk around the corner.  But we got our door painted today, on Saturday, and as far as I’m concerned, I’ve already had a great Mother’s Day.

So raise a glass or a mug tomorrow to someone you love – someone who’s here, or someone who’s gone; someone who is your mom or someone who is your hero; someone who’s load is unbearable, or someone who radiates joy in every fiber of his being.  Raise a glass to the good, however it comes, and whoever it looks like for you.photo

The Time of Innocency

oreoThere’s a line from the old Book of Common Worship  in the liturgy for marriage that goes like this:

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church” etc. etc. etc.

That’s a word we’ve lost – innocency.  Maybe we’ve lost innocency, too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, delighting  in my daughter’s growing up by the minute while shielding her from headlines and Facebook posts about rape and violence and inequity.  I struggle with allowing her the innocency, knowing at some point I have to lower the shield, teach her about hard and scary things, watch her lose some of that innocence and gain knowledge, and maybe be disappointed in all of it.

I do love this time of innocence.  I love that for a long time she referred to a part of the female anatomy as a “pagina.”  I love that she confused the words peanuts and penis, and where her mind went as she tried to put together her peanut allergy with the knowledge that only boys have penises.  She knows to avoid peanuts, so I was pretty sure that she would avoid boys and that particular body part for a long time.  I love that she thinks that if you kiss someone, that means you’re going to marry them.

We are just starting to use the correct words for parts of the anatomy – now that she has a better filter between thinking something and saying it, I’m pretty sure she won’t be shouting out “pagina” in the middle of the children’s sermon.  (Not that she would be the first pastor’s kid to do that.)  I am totally okay with her believing me when I told her that when the baby in the mom’s belly is ready to come out, a special door opens in the mom’s body.  Close enough for now.  I’ve told her that babies grow in moms’ bellies when a mom and a dad love each other a lot and decide they want to have a baby.

But my daughter is smart.  We have friends who are single and gay and lesbian parents and she has figured out that the math of my original equation – man + woman + love = baby – doesn’t add up.  So now we talk about the biology part as separate from the love part. Chalk that up to the New Math.

Other conversations await us.  The fact that some babies are conceived in a lab.  The fact that not all babies are conceived in love.  Just this week, in Chicago and Georgia, two babies were shot and killed.  What the hell?  Really, that must be hell, that we live in a culture in which a freaking baby is shot and killed.  For the love of God, how do I have that conversation with my daughter?

Or the conversation about what it means to be female these days?  That there are still too many archaic thinkers out there who believe that a woman’s only place is ten steps behind a man, or barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, or at a secretary’s desk but never in the corner office.  That if she chooses to dress in a certain way, she is inviting trouble and if she gets trouble, she deserves it.  That her own kind will criticize her if she doesn’t have children, or if she stays home to raise those children, or if she works while raising children.

There will be unpleasant consequences to some of her choices; there already are, but they are not of the magnitude of an unwanted pregnancy or getting fired from a job.  I know that at some point I will lower the shield and start equipping her to deal with disappointment and failure and rejection.  But I’m not ready yet.  This time of innocency is fleeting and dear.

As I wrote this, she was eating an oreo and I taught her the old jingle, “Oh, the kid’ll eat the middle of an oreo first, and save the chocolate cookies outside for last.”  She’s thinks Perry the Platypus is cool, and she will have nothing to do with princesses.  This morning she spent a goodly amount of time constructing a stable out of DVD cases for her My Little Ponies.

But as she grows up, so do I.  It’s the end of innocence, all over again.  Sigh.

pony stable 2

Estate Sale

estate saleThis morning, at 5:07 am, as I was trying to fall back asleep after my daughter with the runny nose had crawled into bed, I heard two car doors close.  A few minutes later (still awake) I heard another car door close.  Then I drifted off.  At 6:30, I went downstairs, chatted with my husband about the new puppy, and noticed a line of people outside our neighbor’s house.  At 7:00, when I left to go for a walk, the line was longer and there was no street parking available anywhere nearby.  At 7:30, when I returned, the line of people went around the corner, and more people were coming, some carrying folding chairs.

As it turns out, my neighbor was having an estate sale; better put, my neighbor’s attorney was having an estate sale on her behalf.  My neighbor is still alive, but since last summer has been living in a care facility.  When we moved here a year and a half ago, we didnt’ meet her but we met her caregivers, three of them, who provided 24-hour care.  She grew up in that house and lived there ninety-something years; she never married, she had no family, only her caregivers.  At least once a month we would see an ambulance out front, and she would be taken to the hospital for a few days, only to return.  I don’t know what precipitated the final move to the care facility.  I only know that the house has sat empty for the last nine months.

the nosy neighbor

the nosy neighbor from Bewitched

Last week there was a landscaping crew out there, trimming trees, mowing the lawn.  I should have known something was up. Last night, in a Gladys Kravitz sort of way, I peeked out the front window straining my eyes to read the signs that were taped to the garage.  Couldn’t read ’em.  Went to bed.  Woke up early, got annoyed quickly.

But after a day of cars coming and going, the line of people stretching and dwindling like pulled taffy, I ventured across the street, much more interested in the house itself than the stuff for sale inside.  Some friendly people from the estate-sale-planning place were out front.  I went in through the garage into the basement.  A beautiful inlaid wood table here, some old skies there.  A makeshift bedroom.  A laundry room.  At narrow, steep staircase up, which I took.   Three bedrooms, one off limits, kitchen, eating nook, living room, presumably a bathroom somewhere.  And people.  Lots of people.  Lots of people going through lots of stuff.

I did look at the stuff, but doing it felt wrong and creepy.  I have no problem with estate sales, garage sales, thrift stores, Goodwill, any of it.  I think it’s great that people reuse old things.  But I felt like a voyeur, going through my neighbor’s house, wondering whose wedding dress that was, since my neighbor never married.  Had she been engaged, called things off, got left at the altar?  And the pink dishes – was pink her favorite color?  Were they old Fiestaware, worth something?   Was she a skier, and if so, why did she have more than one set? It smelled as though a pet had lived there, but I don’t recall ever seeing one.

One woman was going through a box of old photos, and that’s what just about did me in.  She went through those photos, keeping some, leaving others.  Why?  I can’t imagine she knew the woman, or the people in the photos.  Was she an artist, collecting objects for a collage?  Did she have a fascination with old black and whites?  Was there something sinister in her desire for photos of people she didn’t know?

I think a lot about the stuff I’ve accumulated in my life.  We have three sets of china – china we registered for when we got married, china that belonged to my grandmother, china that belonged to my husband’s grandmother.  Will my daughter want all that china?  Will I get rid of it before she is saddled with that decision when I’m old and demented and in a care facility?  And what about all the photos – and I mean all the photos?  Should I organize them, label them, scrapbook them, scan them, or every ten years go through them and get rid of the ones that don’t matter any more?

Do I want some stranger rifling through my things?  Do I want my daughter to have to rifle through my things?

I think about the things that we accumulate because they have meaning to us.  They are memories and mementos, reminders of who we once were, a Girl Scout, a debater, a musical theater geek; a camp counselor, a teacher, a student body president; a granddaughter, a divorcee, a roommate.

I don’t expect my daughter to find meaningful the things that I have found meaningful.  She will choose her own memories and mementos.  I imagine a few will be of my husband and me, but she will collect things unique to her, to her life, to her experience.  She should feel free to let go of those things of mine that have no meaning for her – but not till I’m gone.

In the end, while I do believe in holding fast to what is good, sometimes it is better to let go of what was good, once.