Unpacking to hold onto the memories

One of Matthew’s wonderful qualities is he likes things to have a place… he likes to be organized. Since we moved into our house about 15 months ago, he has dreamed of having a neat and tidy garage. It is a two-car garage and he wants both cars to be in the garage. I love my car being in the garage so I too think this is a great idea.

To accomplish such a task we first had to get a shed put into the backyard to house all of the lawn equipment. We then got a set of cabinets and workbench to accommodate all the tools that would stay in the garage! A few weeks ago Matthew and his mom finished organizing all the tools… all that was left in the garage were some random boxes.

A few boxes would seem like nothing compared to all we had organized and sorted in the garage, but these boxes were not just any boxes. These few boxes basically contained my childhood.

After my mom died, I really never lived at home again. Through the years, Dad continued to pack all my things and moved them each time he moved. After one move, my sister ended up with all my things in her garage. When I moved back to Texas it was a great time for me to retrieve my boxes. Although the initial excitement of having these things back in my possession was short lived.

I really didn’t know why I avoided the boxes; acting like they were not in the garage, looking at me each time I got in the car. It was not until this last weekend I started to understand.

It was time to go through the boxes so our garage could be complete… a project a year in the making! I opened the first box and it almost took my breath away. My childhood rushed over me… memories of my mother. Tears slowly started to fall from my eyes. I avoided the boxes for a year because I didn’t want to unpack my childhood, I didn’t want to once again say goodbye to my mother. As long as I avoided the boxes, I avoided the memories.

I only unpacked two boxes… one contained about a million cards and letters from my childhood. Some were from friends; some from family: many were from my mom. My mom loved giving us cards or leaving us little notes. Each card I opened I would find a message of encouragement and love. Messages saying how proud of me she was.

It was at this moment I realized how much I missed these cards. My mom was my biggest cheerleader. Yes, there are many people in my life who encourage and cheer me on, but they aren’t my mom. As I read the cards, I realized I keep trying to replace her encouragement in my life with words of praise from others and it doesn’t work. Nothing can replace her or what she gave me for 19 years.

As I read and reread the cards I saved, it became obvious I somewhere over the last 15 years stopped letting her encouraging voice have a place in my life. Her death overshadowed everything else in my life. I spent a total of 3 years in counseling to assist me in dealing with her death, yet I kept the wonderful, encouraging words from her packed up in boxes.

I realize I was so scared of the pain and hurt from the memories, I didn’t allow myself the joy and fulfillment from these same memories. As I unpacked the boxes, I allowed myself to once again experience the feelings from knowing how much my mom thought of me. It was through unpacking the boxes, I regained the wonderful memories of my mother. Image

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