Difficulty With Loss

My sister-in-law asked me to go through my brother’s desk on my next visit to their house. Yesterday was the visit and in the afternoon before dinner I looked through various savings, collectibles and such. Some of the request dealt with practical things–Lynn had an amount of coins. Did they have any value?

Like my mom, Lynn tended to save a lot of things. Most of what I saw had sentimental value: old photographs, a few stamps (he was a more serious collector of those than coins) and various mementos. Nearly everything  I found had value (to him), but probably very little actual worth. As for the coins, she could take them to a dealer and get a bit of something for about a dozen steel cents from 1943. There were rolls of quarters from the bank for each of the fifty states, for each of the mints “P” and “D.” Several hundred dollars in face value, but probably little more.

My emotional reaction to it all was palpable. I can imagine his wife feeling ten times that and more. The young miss was offered a few years’ of National Geographics. My wife was offered one set of cufflinks. I was offered three dress shirts, but for some reason, my mind wandered at the end of our visit. I didn’t take them with me, tough they were hanging up on the outside of the bedroom closet upstairs. It seems strange to be considering wearing his clothing, looking through his stuff, carrying things out to the car, like they were just garage sale acquisitions. Considering reason, there’s nothing wrong with any of it–my sister just offering to clear out her closet and a desk of things she won’t use. It would be a small mercy to take things off her hands. Why was I having such difficulty with it?

The older I get, the stronger my own urge gets to divest myself of things. Is it just getting old? Is it that my life has reached an arc of acquisition and it’s time to begin the long road toward my own death? By the time I’m ready to die, maybe I will be left with nothing. Maybe today is the start of the preparation for that. What book can I give away? What item can I sell? To what poor will I give it?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to Difficulty With Loss

  1. Welcome to this little hill of the Piaget Curve, brother. Divestature of material acquistions is integrally tied both to that particular Gospel mandate you mention and to the realization that one’s personal legacy during this lifetime, though subordinate to the demands of total, unencumbered association with Christ, are not merely trifles to those who survive our passing, and that we have some sort of duty to respect both sides of the existential coin.
    All I can say is say of prayer of thanksgiving that Lynn’s passing provides us all with yet another perspective on the reconciliation of earthly and heavenly matters.
    I wish it were so easy to contemplate such a tally sheet when you hear of a young soul, in their teens or twenties, who will pass soon from this veil. Or of those lost to tragedies of disasters and violence who are innocents.
    Isn’t this the feast day of St. Chiara?
    If offered a wedding garment by the Lord, when all else fails, choose to don it.

  2. crystal says:

    When my mom died, my sister and I had to go through all her things, from clothes to a poem she had written to a past boyfriend. It was like a strange archaeological dig – finding evidence of someone no longer around. Sad and disconcerting. It did make me think about all the stuff I’ve accumulated and what it would be like for my sister to have to look through it all.

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