It was long overdue, but none of us were ready for it earlier. So, into the basement and closets it all went: the treasures, the flotsam and jetsam of H’s childhood. Until this week, when M pulled all the boxes into the living room and began to sort.
Decks of cards (some still wrapped in cellophane). Heaps of pens and markers and erasers shaped like animals and flowers and who knows what. Baby toys. Art kits. Magic sets. Scraps of fabric. Pipe cleaners. Rubber stamps. Popsicle sticks. Half-used bottles of bubble solution. Half-filled journals and notebooks. Plastic figurines. Key chains. Shells, sticks, stones, feathers, drift wood. Impossibly tiny doll shoes. Stuffed animals. Unidentifiable bits of plastic. Books, and books, and books.
I expected it to feel emotional (and I’m grateful that M & H did the bulk of the sorting and decision-making without me)—putting behind us one phase of our life in order to prepare for the next—but I didn’t expect the interleaved sensation, seeing the brocade of her childhood woven with threads of our own, memories of her growing up braided with those of our life before and since her arrival, longings for people who gave her things long ago and are no longer here to give her things.
There was plenty of, let’s face it, junk in that pile. Objects that stirred no memories at all.
But when I look at the boxes piled up for donation, I see all at once our expectations, her happy childhood, her growing up and away (in the best, most natural way possible), my own childhood, my approaching half century, my mother, my grandparents, their childhoods and adulthoods, the tiny hands of the next child to play with these toys, their half-closed eyes when they listen to the clock singing its sleepy song.
I’ll say it again: I’m the luckiest girl in the world. Oh, but how life can deliver such beautiful, sad, sweet, sepia-toned stings.