I finally started cleaning it out a few days ago. It was a beautiful, warm and sunny spring day, but I chose to spend it in my windowless storage room. I planned to start with the dozens of paint cans that have been sitting untouched for decades. I figured I’d open them up and let them dry out in the garage, and eventually, throw them away. But then one leaked as I carried it upstairs, which made me think that those paint cans aren’t hurting anything and can sit there for another 20 years.
Not wanting to give up the project, my eyes wandered around the room. Christmas stuff, all nicely organized and recently thinned out. A lamp here, a table there; suitcases of every size. An excessive number of vases and lightbulbs and framed family photos; a variety of wreaths just waiting for the right season to be hung on the front door. Wrapping paper, gift bags and ribbons galore. Ditto for old decorations, small appliances and bedding sets no longer in use. An unbelievable amount of memorabilia belonging to my daughter—too much for her own tiny storage room to hold, too precious for this sentimental mom to toss.
By early afternoon, my eyes kept drifting to the open patio door, just a family room away. I could be out there reading a book. Or taking a walk. Or writing. Or just sitting, basking in the sunshine and listening to the swack of golf balls being hit at long last.
But if not now, when? I’d whittled away my to-do list, looking forward to accomplishing something bigger than cleaning out cupboards or closets or drawers. A project like this one—something I haven’t had time to tackle until normalcy ground to a halt six or seven weeks ago.
And so I took another look, letting my eyes float over all of it once more but now allowing them to settle on the old, dusty Xerox boxes labeled in bold strokes of permanent marker: “Mary’s Stuff.” “Memories—Save for Kids.” “Family History—Share with the Cousins.” “School Papers.” “Foster Kids.” “Work Samples.” And simply “Keep.”
So I opened a box.
And then another.
I started reading.
That was nearly a week ago.
The storage room remains largely untouched. But oh, my–the memories! Part of me wants to kick myself for keeping it all; another part is so glad I did.
Because I’d forgotten who I used to be. For better or for worse, it’s all coming back to me now.
Ezekiel 36:26: “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”
Ephesians 5:8: “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!”
It wasn’t as if I was horrible. Not by any means. But was I lucky to have survived some of it? Yes. And I can’t help but think about my poor mother….
I’d spent a lot of young adulthood floundering around, chasing after all kinds of things just…seeking to find. I’d forgotten so much of the journey, and am grateful for the dusty boxes that took me back to my beginning and down the crooked road to becoming that new person I was meant to be.
Father, thank You for prompting me to save so many sweet memories of family and friendships, and even of an ex-husband who used to call me Honey and Sweetie and tell me he’d love me forever. Thank You for the time to go through it all leisurely, taking all the time in the world to remember who I once was–and who I am now in You. Amen.