the weight of paper: how the heaviness of facts no longer matter.
There’s something about moving. Every time I think I’m okay, I’ll come across another “artifact” from Florence’s life. It’s like tripping over that tiny Hot Wheels car. You know it’s there but one second later it stabs you in the tender flesh of your sole and you fall forward.
Today is was her tiny handheld rattle. The only one she could lift. Do I keep it?
Does it do more harm than good? Why do I keep it when I have so many things of hers. When does “stuff” become baggage, shoulder sagging baggage?
And yesterday, it was the giant stack of nursing reports and medical reports and all the things that labeled Florence as sick, in need of help, diagnosed with SMA.
Do. I. Need. To. Keep. Them?
Last time we moved, I shoved them downstairs. I found a few tiny wood bugs balled up in the plastic lining of the binder. It grossed me out. They were neglected in the basement.
I never even opened the binder.
Do I need to?
Why do I carry it around?
To remember that she was here?
We are given so much paper in our lives and I know it’s a real problem for people to organize, to get rid of. One piece of paper is nearly weightless, but it can deliver gut wrenching news, tell you someone will die, sever a marriage in two thousand pieces.
And a stack of them only seem to get heavier with time.
An unnecessary weight.
I have been carrying them around for just the right amount of time. You can’t force healing, but you can nudge it along.
So I will burn them. A cathartic act to let them go one by one. They are sensitive papers that don’t belong in the recycling.
I will say a farewell. Make a peace with what was.
And will never be again.
No one needs the papers anymore. That’s just the thing. The papers used to give us things we needed; funding and equipment and help and nurses. They were important.
And now they aren’t.
She’s gone. It seems elementary, but she is not the papers, nor does her memory linger there.
My heart has processed so much grief. But sometimes my head has to catch up. It feels wrong to let the facts go. All the papers, as medical parent’s know, were so commonplace in our home. I had binders and tabs and a shelf for them.
“Florence restless from 1-3am. Needed frequent repositioning. Tylenol given.”
“We are pleased to provide the medical equipment on loan.”
“Molecule analysis failed to detect the presence of the SMN1 gene, confirming homozygosity for a deletion of SMN1.”
“This letter is to inform you that we have determined Florence is eligible for direct nursing services at home.”
But now I don’t need them.
I will let them go.
I will let the ashes come. I will let their edges be torn by the fire.
And I will let them settle in the outdoor fire pit, gray and blackened by heat, void of meaning, soon dampened by the rain.
One more step, one more shoulder roll and exhale.
Grief deserves a whole classroom, I think. It takes years of experience and mending and it takes time to learn the reasons why we hide some things away.
How have you practically processed your grief? Will you keep your papers or let them go?