I know my Husband loves me. I am sure of it. How can I be so sure of this other being's utter devotion, you might ask? Well, he spent the better part of yesterday with me tackling my parents' Attic, with a capital "A." We toiled. And we sweated. And we hauled. And we sorted. And we hauled again. And we burned. And we sweated some more.
My parents' old house has more nooks and crannies than you could shake a stick at. It's old. It's cobbled together. It's cavernous. But there are only a few spaces that I have truly dreaded during their Move to End All Moves. The Attic was Enemy No. 1 on my list. And it was quite obvious that unless I grabbed the project by the scruff of its neck, it would be next summer before it was cleared out. My parents are currently planning to officially list the house August 2. The new owners (dear God, please let there be new owners) would certainly not appreciate me in their attic next July. So we toiled. And did I mention the sweating?
My paternal grandmother was a prolific saver. I use the term "pack rat" in the most endearing of terms. It seemed she saved every letter, postcard, envelope, address label, Christmas card, birthday gift tag, travel ticket, and scrap of paper she ever received. My personal favorites are boxes stuffed with paperwork, with a clear handwritten note adorning the top: "To be sorted later." Both the receiver and writers are long gone, forgotten by time. My grandmother has been dead since the mid-1990s, but her presence was felt yesterday. I feel it still today. In my lower back and my calves and my upper arms.
And it was hard for me, because if I take honest stock of myself, I know that I have the same tendencies. I can't throw away old birthday cards, notes my parents left for me while I was growing up, drawings I scribbled at unfortunate emotional junctures of my childhood, scrawled secrets on college-ruled paper from friends in the middle of classes, and let's not even get into my old scrapbooks that contain sheaves of coursework marked with large, red "A+'s" (because who keeps the "B's"?). If I preserve these remembrances, surely the gesture will keep my loved ones static, safe from the whims of fate and circumstance. Right?
I suppose this plan did not work out so well for my grandmother.
But to destroy these mementos was thankfully not my decision to make. It fell to my blessedly unsentimental father to point to the boxes that we plopped at his feet and pronounce, "Burn." And so I cringed and retreated to the Attic to drag more down, and Husband burned. Had it fallen to me to sort through the letters, I would have become mired in the mawkishness of it all and lost my own life to sorting through that of another's.
So perhaps the lesson is twofold: remember to simply and sweetly enjoy my time with my devoted Husband, who will help me with the most terrifying of tasks, however begrudgingly, simply because he loves me that much. And don't spend too much time categorizing my own life's past. Someday my granddaughter might simply burn it.