I am not overly sentimental when it comes to keeping things.
In my dating years, I did not hang on to movie stubs or concert tickets or mementos from first dates or anniversaries. I attempted to keep a rose now and again, hanging it upside down to dry. Eventually, I’d bump into it or move, and the dried petals would crumple and crack; I’d throw the remains away, not remembering the giving of the flower in the first place.
When it came to my own things—performances and accomplishments—I’d keep programs and awards for awhile. Eventually I’d toss them all; I don’t like clutter. I still have a few awards, though I only display one or two. When my Grandmother passed, I found old ticket stubs from my musicals, engagement and wedding announcements, little bits and pieces of me through the years.
I throw out cards after holidays and birthdays, though by some strange stroke of luck, I have both the last Christmas and birthday card my paternal Grandmother sent me. I don’t know why other than some strange stroke of luck or fate or God or something that kept me from throwing it away. Neither at Christmas in 2013 or my birthday in 2014 did we have any inkling she would die in early June.
But, I collect still collect things. Just in a different way, I suppose.
As I sort through the boys’ epic amounts of paper that arrive home in their backpacks each and every day, I try to find the balance in what I keep, what I toss. I manage to keep some good stuff, and I’ve stopped wondering so much about whether it will end up being the stuff that matters or not.
Because I collect memories here. I write down things in paper journals. I photograph their first baseball practice of the year or the way they practice spelling words while their brother is on the field. I burn their “I love yous” in my heart, so I can recall them for all time.
I collect scars—physical and mental. I collect tears—my own and theirs—and allow them to wash away the sadness, to drown us in joy. I collect stories—so, so many of theirs; I want to repeat them back for years and years to come. I collect their laughter, their fears, their hopes and dreams, the joy in their eyes. I store it all up for later days, for harder days, for easier days, for forever.
I collect these little things of parenthood, the ones that can’t be put in a box, and I treasure them deeply.