It took me nearly nine years to clean one closet. After John died and most of his clothes had made it to the men’s shelter like he’d asked, I attempted to clear it but mostly kept it crammed with everything from seldom worn jackets to supplies for making vision boards.
Unlike me, John delighted in getting rid of things. Because his journey from a terminal diagnosis to the day he left this earth spanned over a decade, I watched him part with everything from business receipts to a beloved acreage in the country. He had room for morning meditation, calling faraway friends, and playing cribbage.
Letting go has never been my strong suit. My son once opened my kitchen drawer and declared I had “a vegetable peeler problem.” Pausing long enough to decide whether 25 tubes of half used lip color are too many doesn’t seem like a priority when there is a party to attend or a pot of bean soup to be made.
Marie Kondo’s first bestselling book on transforming your life by getting rid of stuff came out the year John died. The advice to toss tons of paperwork didn’t resonate for the veteran lawyer in me. Still, I kept the book along with the few hundred others throughout my home. My joy is apparently sparked by a lot of subjects.
But it was time.
I pulled out his tuxedo tucked in the far back. Worn each December at the fundraiser held in memory of my late brother, its size surprised me as I pictured his rail thin body in the end. I let go of the books on blood type but kept the one from his favorite guru. I opened the box enclosing over a hundred cards of condolences, rereading each one.
The pandemic places loss before us each day. Our hearts are repeatedly opened and perpetually aching. What is the source of our solace? Where can we count on comfort? How can we keep breathing? How much capacity does one human have?
I make the stacks. Give away. Throw away. Put away. I do not rush.
I am a forever a student of seeking to see what no longer serves me. Of what is taking up space. Of what is possible if I would only make room.
When there is no going back to what once was, I keep asking the questions. I find solace in remembering. I find comfort in the order. Eventually I breathe a small sigh of relief.
I’ve made a start at making room for what will be.
Is it time for you to let go of something?
Where would you like to have more space in your life?
What might be possible if you had room for the new?