I needed to go through my daughter’s childhood books in preparation for her baby shower. We planned to put some of her books on the tables, then she could take them home and add them to her daughter’s library. As I saw some of her favorites, I checked inside to confirm they were hers and not her sister’s, as well as to look at any notes written inside the cover.
I didn’t realize how often I wrote in books to mark an occasion. The number of times I found a short note and “Love, Mommy and Daddy” quickly began to add up. The memories of birthdays and other special occasions were sweet, but seeing Mommy and Daddy written on the same line so close together was difficult. Oh, each of us is still a parent, but we no longer belong on the same signature line. We no longer partner as we parent, grandparent, and simply do life as a family. We aren’t that kind of a family anymore.
Seeing many of those notes marked moments that spurred joy but also poked and cut like a barb.
In addition to the books, I wanted to go through my wedding tub.. I hadn’t purged it when I moved out of the house I shared with my ex, because I didn’t trust my judgment of what to keep and what to pitch. But I was fairly certain my ex would have pitched it had I left it behind, since he was tossing aside pretty much everything related to our relationship.
Most items were easy to toss in the trash. They were mementos that just took up space and no one would ever want to reuse. The tub also contained cards people had given us for our wedding and our first Christmas together. As I read each one, I thought of many people who had been in our lives at that point. Thinking about the people in our lives then who had faded out over the years prompted me to think of other friendships through various seasons, including people who had invested in or burst into my life. I read cards from people who had passed away and reflected on their lives and the interactions I might have had with them today. And I read cards from people who were important to me then and continue to be today.
I only saved a handful of cards, most which I sent to other people to remind them of our friendship through the years or a loved one’s handwriting and thoughtfulness. Despite the circumstance, I was blessed as I sorted through the cards, and I wanted to share the blessing with others.
I had a sense of peace through the process. I was ready for it – one more step forward. I even laughed at the small booklet I found. Created at one of the showers where couples and families attended, it was “Words of Wisdom for Marriage.” I chuckled at the irony. Most of the advice included in the handwritten pages was wise indeed, but if one or more persons in the marriage (or any other relationship or situation) doesn’t apply the wisdom, the commitment is fractured.
I continued the evening with my daughter hanging out for a while, baking cookies, and taking down Christmas decorations. I was especially sensitive to the moments of joy. I reflected on the Christmas season we’d just gone through, and I smiled. It had been a sweet one. More steps forward.
Yet as I walked on the treadmill at the gym later, tears began to fall. I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t feel overly sad. I wondered if it was just that I was tired from a busy weekend. But that would be unusual for me. Then, as easily as the tears were falling, the answer came: I was healing. I had taken quite a few steps forward, and I had sifted through memories. My heart and mind were a bit more clear. God had lightened my load and nourished my soul. I felt as if he had given me a hug, then held me by the shoulders and looked me in the eyes as if to reassure me, “Keep moving along, my girl. I’ve got you.”
Yes, God. You have, and you do.