Moving at any age is difficult. Moving at my age is dangerous. I’m having knee problems, sleep problems, weight loss (not a problem), and confusion (always a problem).
Every week is a challenge. The goal is a minimum of 10 boxes emptied, and one improvement made. The boxes are large and small, and the improvements are both inside and outside the house. Progress is slow, but then so am I.
I hit a brick wall yesterday when I came across my son’s christening gown, with those little cloth shoes and that tiny little hat. The effect was catastrophic. I think it’s called catalepsy. I sat for an hour unable to move as the panic set in. I could think of nothing else for the entire day. What do you do with a christening gown of a child who has died and you have no other family on earth to give it to? Thrift shop? I don’t think so. Ask around to friends? Who in their right mind would want it? I called my surrogate son in England and asked if he would accept the gown. He hesitated, and the catch in his voice was pronounced when he finally spoke. “Why don’t you take all those things, his birth certificate, that gown, those baby teeth, locks of hair, and write his story in a way only you can; only a mother can. Document his life with some pictures and anecdotes, and speak about the world the way it was when he was born to the day he died. Then buy one of those time capsules and place it all in there and take it to those mountains you love so much and bury it.” The charm of his British accent had left his voice, and I realized I was sharing too much, especially since he now has children of his own.
Just the idea of this gave me the courage to take the gown out of the bag. I hadn’t looked at it in over thirty years, but when I held it in my arms I could also feel the slightness of my son’s body the day I carried him into the church, rocking him gently as we all stood there looking at his beautiful face and stirring with surprise as he slept though the whole thing. How is it that some memories are so strong that they stay palpable in the mind and can be brought up in an instant, like the fragrance of a newborn?
So that is my solution. I’m looking online and will opt for the one with the 500-year guarantee. And yes, I realize the irony of buying something with a 500-year guarantee. I’m not completely stupid; just making an emotional purchase. I am going to purge this house and those boxes, and except for his teddy bear (that now resembles what my cat hocks up) …which will remain on my bed because I can’t seem to sleep without it… it’s all going. Judiciously extracted pages from his baby book, some of his art, a small Mother’s Day gift he made in school, a card, a few letters from camp, my story of his life, AND (here is where it gets very weird), some DNA….just in case. The rest will be burned in the fireplace.
How could I do this? Some of you may be thinking this is a huge mistake; something I will regret. I can assure you I will not. I live in a mine field of memories. The move has unearthed so much pain, I am stifled by it. Many of these boxes were packed when he was a small child, and simply moved from house to house. I have to let these things go. The only question was where they would end up. I have nightmares about his things being sold in antique shops. How often have I picked up a cabinet photo of a baby and wondered who he was and why no one in the family saved the photo? Soon I will be free to imagine a day in the distant future when someone will find his things and will, undoubtedly, say his name out loud. The short story that was his life will become known to someone, someday, somewhere… and then again maybe not. It’s possible, even with that amazing guarantee, the capsule will be unearthed by a flood or an earthquake when there is no one left on the planet to find it. But at least now there will be a chance he will be remembered. And a chance is better than no chance. Isn’t that what we all want? A chance to be remembered.