It was time to clean out the shed. I had moved out a lot of my stuff when Chas moved in over four years ago; and his stuff filled up all the holes left by my self-regarded junk. Contained within the shed along with the seven boxes of Christmas decorations: an anatomy of memories. I opened box after box and dug into the past. The mums, journals, and school work plotted the lives of my daughters. I had saved every stuffed animal, book and piece of jewelery they had ever dropped on the floor. After thirty minutes of peek and probe, I began to cry. There it was again, the empty nest cry. It lies deep within me; and erupts when there is too much pressure on my heart.
The red bike had hung in the same spot in the shed for 13 years. It had hung in a bicycle shop in Baunach, Germany for a year before we bought it. Almost every day I would wrap up my babies and go down a winding hill into the small village for a 10 pfenning ice cream cone. We had to pass over a stream and then onto a cobble stone street that meandered past the bike shop. Every day we would stop and Kristi would say, “There’s my bike!” I have the framed photo of her on the bike the day her father brought it home, a full year after she proclaimed it as hers. We had to take the walk as a family just to see that her bike was indeed at home, and no longer suspended in the window.
Today the bike is in my garage, rusted with flat tires. This thing holds a moment in time that is still as magical as that red bike once was to my four year old little girl.
Both of my daughters were very giving to me in the form of crafts assembled with their little hands in elementary school. I was a “grate” mom, according to Shannon. I sure didn’t feel like it. Along with my empty nest cry comes guilt due to divorce. The choice to dissolve the marriage effected us all and now there is no way to make restitution. How does a mother mitigate the choices of her past? Would burning a stalk of sage work in the space of time?
The shed was full of rat, mouse, racoon and/or some other varmit poop that made it home. I found a nest or two. It was dirty. I swept up that shed and felt the dirt of the shed was on me. Sort of like the past. If one dwells too long there it gets on you, and it leaves a mark.
After moving the very large trash pile down to the curb for the bi-annual community clean-up, we loaded the keeper-pile into the trailer. On the outside trash pile laid old stuffed animals, shoes, purses and some broken childhood furniture. Mentally, I also placed my transgression. I wish I could have literally lit a fire and “given it to Jesus,” but there is a code against it.
I successfully transferred some amazing items from the old shed to the new garage. I plan to give the bounty to my daughters. Kristi will get her old bike, Shannon will get her journal in which she chronicled some thoughts from 1994 to 2000. They will have to discuss who gets the homemade highchair, and the books I read to them when they were little. They both have school work and a load of mums.
What we have lived has inestimable value. What we are living now is just as precious. But now, I don’t pick their stuff up from the floor and put it away in a box for safe and future keeping, Now I take in every moment with them locking it all in my heart, eventually squeezing out every last regret.