I never thought of myself as a hoarder. However the word defined is "someone who accumulates a supply that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation for future use." When we think of “hoarding” these days, not in the word’s origin, in the early 19th century, it is more of a dysfunctional behavior. Hoarders are individuals that have stock piles in their homes of anything and everything that make their houses deemed unfit for living, health hazards. As I have packed belongings for selling our home for downsizing and moving, I have realized I have held on to far too many possessions.
Eight years ago, facing cancer, I realized, revising my Will, the most important things I was taking with me were my memories. None of the belongings I had acquired could I take on that final trip, that everlasting vacation, of sorts, to the Gates of Heaven. Once they opened, I wouldn’t look back and would never come back to anyone left behind. And, I would go in to a place with the same thing I came into this world with, no possessions.
Yet, I was confronted with trying to come up with, aside from money, what possessions I have that have value. It is funny, when I thought about it, because value has two meanings, monetary and emotional. There is the charm bracelet my daughter gave me on her first honeymoon. Every stop she made on her cruise she got me a charm and put it on a charm bracelet. I have that but I also have expensive gem rings from my husband. What items would hold value to my children or grandchildren?
I also thought about so many friends I have met along the way and my sisters, my nieces and nephews? I loved them and wanted to leave a piece of me behind with them. I wanted them to know I loved them after I was dead and wanted them to be touched I thought of them after I died. What could I leave, what item? And then I asked myself was it necessary to do so for them to even know that?
So I scanned my house and tried to come up with all the items, stressing about it while in chemotherapy. Looking at my list, when I typed it up, I quickly realized the items meant more to me than they ever would mean to anyone else. I thought about what I had from one of the dearest people I lost, my Grandma Gliatti. My colorful bandanna that she had on her head on one vacation she took with us. And that one article was all I needed, nothing more. So here I was wasting precious time of my life worrying about items, things, possessions that would matter not to those people. So I left my list alone and walked away from it, leaving it probably not intact, but not caring. I realized it really didn’t matter in the end.
Fast forward to now, as I went through room after room, trying to decide what to pitch, give away and pack. Many things have changed in my life. I have lost relationships that I treasured, gained some, and picked up a few items I value. There are a few people I love in my life that I doubt would want any reminders of me, life can be cruel that way. Do I hold on to those things in the hope, when I die, they will have a change of heart and at least want those items? What if I take the space to hold on to some things people don’t even want? I begun to see the same old pattern here, I have a hard time letting go of things and attach way too much meaning and emotions to items.
What struck me the most was the sheer quantity of what I have. Amazing how many things one accumulates. How could I do that and not even realize it! I recall a week ago standing in the garage and telling my husband that not only was he a hoarder but I was as well. I have held on to far too many possessions. Yes, the woman who had realized when she had cancer and was writing a will realizing my items were, in reality, worthless, was stressing over each one, item by item.
The reason I stress, and so many others react the same way is because attached to each is a memory, like my grandmother’s bandanna. But the truth is, even if, in
God really allows us this amazing ability to take our lives’ experiences with us where ever we go. With each item left behind, given or sold, for a few moments, I feel a little bit sad. In a matter of a few more moments, the Holy Spirit reminds me of the precious beautiful memories attached to each and every item. I then can look at the sky and realize they still live within me, and always will.