“Before you can live a part of you has to die. You have to let go of what could have been, how you should have acted and what you wish you would have said differently. You have to accept that you can’t change the past experiences, opinions of others at that moment in time or outcomes from their choices or yours. When you finally recognize that truth then you will understand the true meaning of forgiveness of yourself and others. From this point you will finally be free.”
~ Shannon L. Alder
It was seeing my mother yesterday that finally and unexpectedly helped me to let go of something I’d been holding onto for the longest time.
I hadn’t seen mum for a while, and I was quietly shocked to see how tired and old and careworn she looked. How much like my late grandmother.
There was something else I recognised in the lines of her face, the creases of her eyes, the aging skin on the back of her hands…
There I was, in my mother’s face. In her posture and her laugh, and her sun-damaged winter-skinned hands.
Mum’s getting older, and so am I.
It wasn’t a bad feeling. It was an honest acceptance of this thing that is time, marching through our too-short lives and stealing our days whether we are ready or not.
Of course, Lyme disease has also stolen many of my days. Too many, really. But I can’t afford to look back. My power lies in living in the moment, facing forward.
Which is why, close to midnight I rose from my bed, remembering something I hadn’t thought of for a while.
It was there, shoved into the back of the linen closet. Hidden by old towels and sheets. Unused, but never able to be let go of. Just in case. I pulled it out and sat with it for a while. Not sad. Just ready to finally let go.
Many years ago, before I was even married, my nana gave me a tiny pair of knitted booties, a crocheted bonnet and a baby blanket. I was perhaps twenty at the time, and had taken a year off college because of what we thought were the post-illness complications of Ross River fever. I was actually in full-blown lyme, but that’s a whole other story. I hung out with my nana a lot that year, nana and her elderly friends. We swapped arthritis treatments and pain remedies. Despite our age differences we moved in time. Slowly. Limpingly. I was a good fit with the octogenarians. They helped me deal with my limitations, my heart arrhythmias, my exhaustion and lack of mobility. They helped me to laugh at life, and to find pleasure and satisfaction in the small details of my day.
During that year Nana gave me these tiny white treasures for my Glory Box. For when I inevitably became a mother myself.
They were beautiful with their silky little ribbons and tight neat stitches.
I wrapped them in tissue paper and put them in a shoebox. A shoebox that got carted across the country and back again. A shoebox that was always crammed into the back of cupboards as I dealt with ill-health, my first failing marriage, and then the five miscarriages that accompanied my second marriage.
But I could never quite part with those tiny white dreams.
I’m too old for children now. My dreams have shifted. My reality has changed. I am where I am and where I am is okay.
The tissue paper is musty and the once-white ribbons have the speckled stains of age. With care and a good wash they might all be made good for someone else. Or perhaps they’d be a lovely outfit for a dolly.
This morning when we take Cafe Dog for his outing, I’ll stop in at the local church and put the shoebox in the thrift shop donation bin.
If new babies are born into our family line, I shall find them bright new dreams and fancies.
We can’t carry everything with us.
I know Nana will understand.
Is there anything in the back of your closet that you need to let go of too? Courage, friend. We have today in our hands, and a new day tightly furled, waiting in the wings of this one. Life is full of amazing gifts when our hearts are open to receive.