At a recent poetry group my friend Annie brought in a poem about going through all of the letters her parents had ever written her and finding one letter to keep so she could recycle the rest. I said, "I don't understand why you would do this."
Today I went through mountains of cards and letters and Sweet Potato's preschool artwork, and I recycled most of it. It was painful. When I was itty bitty I had a friend named Marie-- she was grandmotherly-- and she made a scrapbook out of all of her old Christmas cards and gave it to me. I still have it. Some of the cards are fuzzy and glittery gold, and those are my favorite.
I always planned to make a scrapbook out of my cards, but I never did. Some of this memorabilia had been stuffed in a box for twenty years, dragged from apartment to apartment, never getting any love. I had to let it go. I kept the letters, wedding and baby congrats, some school work that was too precious to toss-- like Sweet Potato's first letter to Obo in England-- and photos, of course.
R went through his smaller mountains, too. Hills really. Ant hills. He found a song he wrote for me and a journal he kept during the two seconds that I played hard to get. That was fun reading.
My friend T'other gave me a going away card with "barn's burnt down" on it. I meant to tell her that I had that same card up on my wall for years, and then I finally took it down because I wasn't grieving over that barn anymore, and I was happy with the moonlight in my window.
Now I feel like my barn's burnt down all over again. I know going to live in a house on a lake is not exactly barn burning material, but all these stinking goodbyes sure feel like flames licking at hay. I didn't even know I had built myself a new barn-- apparently I had, and I filled it with greeting cards.