Since as long as I can remember, my Mom has had this chrome and black leather chair and ottoman that I have wanted. I remember being a little kid and waking up in the middle of the night, only to find her sitting in that chair in our library, either reading or listening to the stereo with her huge ear phones over her head, her eyes closed. As I got older, I could imagine myself also reading and listening to music in this chair, but she was unwilling to give up the chair. “It will be yours someday anyway.” Funny that time came sooner than we both thought. Now I own the chair and rarely sit it, and I definitely don’t read or listen to music while sitting there. But what I realize is it was never really about the chair. Not really. It was about the image I had of her sitting there and how I wanted to emulate that experience or have it for myself.
Tonight, my boyfriend and I got into a small argument because I haven’t really gone through my mother’s things and turned her house into my own. And after almost a year, it is definitely time, he’s right. What’s also strange is that she would tell me to pitch all of her stuff. She was a firm believer that, as she said, “we’re just a bag of soul and the rest is just stuff.” So why do we hang on to this stuff. I have a basement full of stuff that I haven’t gone through yet. A paper I wrote in 3rd grade. Fisher Price people from years and years ago. Several Christmas trees and I believe every card my mother ever received. It appears she didn’t necessarily practice her own beliefs. But she was right.
The stuff doesn’t really matter, even though I’m a collector. Recently, my boyfriend left me a note made out of fabric letters on our bed. KIZZ it said, because he didn’t have any S’s. Several days later, he found that I had saved the letters in my jewelry box. He laughed, not really understanding. Because the letters don’t mean anything. It’s the memory of walking back into the bedroom after he had left for the day and seeing the letters. Imagining him sitting there, thinking about me and creating a special moment. Special moments, not special things. Just a bag of soul. A rainstorm at 4 in the morning in Florida. The smell of flowers on the side of the road in Georgia on a road trip. The first kiss at the end of the day. The taste of a poppyseed muffin or stealing a grape from the grocery store. Laughing so hard with friends telling old stories. A proposal of marriage. The feel of my feet on wet grass or sand. The last time I held my mother’s hand. Soul.
So it’s time to pack the stuff up, throw away most of it and make my place my own. New memories. New Soul. It’s just stuff anyway. Recently, I went to my Mom’s grave, which is strange because I don’t really feel anything when I go out there. I noticed that the stone starfish that our friend had placed on her grave was stolen. It really upset me at first, but now I realize, it’s just stuff. And as my Dad would say, “They obviously need it more than we do.” So, if you want any 3rd grade papers or paper mache Snoopy’s, let me know.
Grief is so individual, but sometimes we need people to direct us to the next stop on our road. I didn’t even realize that my car tires were stuck in the mud until tonight. So, it’s time to move on. But I’m keeping the chair.