appreciation, change, childhood, clarity and direction, comfort, death, Discovery, dying, families, grieving, home, letting go, living and growing, perspective

Today was a hard day…

Together, my sister and I have been regularly going through and cleaning out, my parent’s house and it’s 62 years of belongings. Doing it together has been a huge blessing. Together we have shared memories, laughed at long forgotten stories and helped each other to let go.

But today was a hard day. The letting go of furniture, glassware and other objects has been a bit easier than I anticipated. But the paper….the piles and piles of papers…that is where my heart has faltered.

Both of my parents kept scads of paper memories. And I can’t let them go without looking at each one. Twice. (I’m not kidding.) The process is grueling and painstaking. Each time I see their handwriting, I am reconnected to them. Each accolade they’ve received makes me proud of them. It hurts to let it go. I don’t want to forget and I fear that without the paper reminders it will all slip away.

Of course, I know this is not entirely true. I know I don’t need to remember every detail. But I want to. I want to wrap my arms around it all, assimilate it into my heart and mind and never let it go.

But I do let it go. At least most of it. However, I have found that letting go of something physically, does not mean you are released from it. At least not right away.

My mother has made it easier. She has entrusted her home and all of her belongings to my sister and I. She has told us to do what we want with it. Most of it no longer holds her heart. I’m grateful for the release she has gifted us with. Grateful that she knows our hearts will honor hers.

But it’s my Dad’s stuff that had me struggling today. He did not release me as my mother has. And knowing how important his papers were to him, makes them take on importance to me. Perhaps he didn’t even remember he still had some of them. Perhaps he never expected me to struggle over it like I do. No doubt, if he had thought of it before he died, he would have cleaned the whole place out himself. Yet he did not, so I must find a way to release myself.

Figuring out what matters, what must be saved, even if only for my heart’s sake, is a challenging task. Caring for my parents has been a privilege I have always welcomed, even in it’s most challenging moments. But caring for them has always included THEM. But without them in it, their home that was once alive and full of love, is slowly becoming an empty shell. A museum of memories. I’m learning that memories, even warm and happy ones, can be crippling. It feels strange to long for what was, while simultaneously discarding what is left of it.

Today was a hard day. But not a terrible one. The tears that welled up, helped to clear my vision. I am reminded that loving hard means letting go will also be hard. It’s the cost of loving. My Dad doesn’t care about the stuff he left behind. And I need very little of that stuff to remember him.

Today was a hard day. But it ends with me finding the release I was seeking. And that, makes a hard day, worthwhile.

Standard
change, childhood, comfort, death, Discovery, dying, enlightenment, families, grieving, healing, home, letting go, living and growing, mourning, moving on, new life, struggles

“And even in our sleep….”

Have you ever noticed that when things happen in life…graduations, births, deaths, moving….they never seem to happen one at a time? That’s been true for me, at least.  Big life events are crowded into a small time period, often with more than one big thing happening at once.

Processing gets lost in these times. That’s where sleep comes in – assuming you can sleep. Our dreams take over when our waking days fail us. At night, when all is quiet, our thoughts are exposed while dreaming.

And so it has been for me.

I heard a quote recently, that was new to me. It spoke to this experience of pain exposing itself while we sleep.

The poet Aeschylus said, “And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”

And so this season has been just that. Awake, I function.  I laugh.  I enjoy.  I work. In sleep though, that which can no longer be ignored, demands it’s own time.

In sleep, I weep.

The last three months have been so full.  My youngest daughter graduated college. I moved my mother into an assisted living and along with that I have begun the process of dealing with my childhood home. The reality of my mom being gone from my life, some day soon, rests on the horizon. One of my daughter’s will be getting married in less than a year. She will move out and begin a new life. There is plenty to keep me busy.

Looking ahead, In the fall I will begin to work three days a week. I have done two days for the last two years but three feels like a big increase. I will still be caring for my mom…still working….still planning a wedding…still running a household…still being a wife, mom, friend…you get the idea.

But honestly, during the day, I tell myself everyone has to do this kind of stuff, everyone has these experiences….it’s just life. Deal with it. And I do.

But my dreams speak to feelings too deep to express in the light of day. Sadness, weariness, and fear. And loss. Both real and imagined.

Last night’s dream found me in my parent’s house. Lately this is the new backdrop for all my dreams. Realtors were emptying out the house. I had spent two weeks right outside the house, with my mother. I did not want to go inside. But finally I did and I saw that it was almost done. Furniture was being moved out, everything was sold. And I laid down on a grassy area (yes, inside the house!) and sobbed. Curled up into myself, I couldn’t stop sobbing. Realtors tried to talk to me. They offered me already sold pieces of furniture to try and get me to stop crying. I looked at the items but I recognized none of it. I tried to find my childhood bedroom but the entire house was foreign to me. And this made me weep more. Finally, I decided I must stop crying. I stood up, wiped my eyes and left.

Last week’s dream was the same. In their house again but it was Christmas Eve. But not like I remembered Christmas Eve’s to be….this one was complicated, uncomfortable and again, involved crying.

And so it goes.

I know many go through losing parents and perhaps even childhood homes. I know they survive it. But still my heart worries….

I will learn from it. I will get through it and I’m counting on that grace from God that the poet mentioned. And I know that when my mom does die, that my waking world and my sleeping world will merge. The pain will no longer be contained within dreams.

But for now, I’m grateful for the sleeping world as it does its work at opening my heart to the wisdom and grace that change and loss produce. Even in our sleep.

Standard