The joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
Journal – Today, real time.
After Mom passed away, I felt the need to stay with my Dad for a few weeks. Partly because I didn’t want him to be alone for those first lonely days, but partly for me as well. I needed the comfort of home. I needed to see and touch familiar things that made me feel close to Mom.
Her favorite purple sweater draped over a chair. Her sock drawer where my sister and I would always borrow socks when we were home. The butterfly muumuu dress that she loved to wear. The dress and sweater are still hanging in Dad’s wardrobe. The sock drawer is still where it has been, in the dining room sideboard, for the past few years. It will stay, so Beth and I can still borrow socks when we are home. Even now back home in Louisville, a pair of her brightly colored socks lie folded on my dining room table. A reminder of a time I borrowed a pair and they made it home with me. Someday they may make their way back home and nestle in the drawer with the others.
There is always a need when someone passes to sort through things and do some organizing and rearranging. Dad and I spent a lot of time doing that in the weeks after she left us. But those first few days were too soon. I had to hit pause and give it time. I don’t think it is healthy to hold onto stuff forever, but I do think it is necessary not to rush the process. And, I think it is important to allow yourself the freedom to hang onto a few special things.
One small thing that I ran across in her desk drawer was a little notepad I had given her several years ago. It had a verse on the front of it that has long been a favorite of mine and one that I hoped at the time would encourage her: “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. It was a timely reminder that I needed to let him be my strength as I navigated saying goodbye. I put it on my bedside table as a reminder of His strength and as a memory of my Mom. The fact that it was still intact and in her desk drawer let me know that it was a treasured possession. It has been a well-known fact in our family that if Mom loved something, she “saved” it for special use at some point in the future.
As Dad and I began sorting through her collections we saved those items that we knew had a special family connection – gifts from us, or things that had belonged to her Mother. Those items remained on her shelves or were given to the family. Other items were collected to be donated so that someone else can enjoy them. Some of the things we kept will be divided among family when the time is right for Dad to let go.
I think we have kept enough to honor her memory, but also have let go of enough that Dad will not be overwhelmed with keeping track of stuff. Because at the end of the day stuff is just stuff and we have to hold it loosely. And, as it turns out, it is usually the small, seemingly insignificant things that most people would overlook that somehow tug at our heartstrings the most.
Like a sock drawer.
Grace for the Journey,
Come back tomorrow for more of the journey? Just a reminder that I usually post later in the day. Clicking on the ladybug graphic will take you to the first page in this series with links to the daily posts. Thanks for reading!