As part of my decluttering efforts (with a view to making the house saleable sometime in the next year or so), I’ve been getting rid of years and years and years worth of papers. (Please tell me I’m not the only one with all the paperwork from the house they sold more than 20 years ago… 😛 )
Some of the things I’ve come across in my shredding process have made for fun little trips down memory lane. In one box, I found hubby’s old police notebooks from his first years in uniform. We’ve actually set those aside for him to read through before we dispose of them, and we’re looking forward to being regaled with remembered stories over the holidays. 😀
Other finds, however, have been significantly more poignant.
One of the boxes of papers belonged to my mother, who passed away almost ten years ago. It’s all day-to-day stuff, mostly financial: bills, receipts, bank statements. At first, as executor of her estate, I had to hold onto the papers until all the taxes were finalized and the estate closed. When all that was done, I found I couldn’t face dealing with them. Then I forgot about them. And now…now it’s time.
It’s harder than I thought it would be. As I put each sheet of paper through the shredder, it feels like I’m erasing a piece of her life…a bit of her presence. Occasionally, I come across a hand-written note attached to something, and the past ten years without her seem to dissolve for an instant, bringing her close again. Making her real. The notes mean nothing to me–names of people she needed to contact, reminders to herself to write this, do that–but the handwriting…oh, the handwriting. It’s so familiar. So real. So her.
I hold these notes for a little longer than I do the other papers, but eventually they, too, must pass through the shredder. At first it feels as if a part of my heart goes with them, but as I reach the bottom of the box, I realize that far from erasing her presence, this process has, briefly, brought her back to life for me. I’ve remembered the little details that had faded with time–the timbre of her voice, her smile, her laugh, the feel of her arms around me–and for a while, she is sharp and clear and bright in my heart.
I haven’t shredded her memories after all, it seems. I’ve only shredded the box into which I’d tucked them out of sight. 🙂