There’s one shelf in my office where I keep my most favorite books, the ones that touched my heart and sparked my imagination, the ones I’d saved because I knew I’d want to read them again some day.
In January I pulled them all out, thinking this would be a good year to revisit them. While I eagerly anticipated re-reading brilliant novels, genre-challenging classics, and inspiring biographies, there was one category that pinched an especially sensitive nerve: the beloved books from my childhood.
Charlotte’s Web, the Little House in the Prairie series, the adventures of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, all the Harry Potter books. I had saved those books, moved them from apartment to apartment, with the intention—and the hopes—of one day reading them to and with my own children. Alas….
Offers of some to nieces and nephews were declined, typically because they had already outgrown the stories. I had to think hard about what I was going to do with these treasures of mine.
Read them. Ah-hah. That’s what I chose to do. Read them to myself, for myself. And so I dug in.
At this point I still have the Mark Twain books in my to read stack, but all the others have been enjoyed, devoured, and—to my surprise—released. I discovered I needed to love them one last time before I could consider where they might go next.
A couple of those books have been gifted to the daughters of a friend (which made me so happy to do). Others will be donated to the library, where I trust they will thrill some young reader. None of them are going back on my shelf.
I just caught my breath. A year ago I could not have imagined saying that I had, without an emotional breakdown, let them go.
This got me thinking about the whole grieving process. Over the years of wrestling with my losses, I have come to believe that in order to fully let go and move on, I must first acknowledge my grief, then dance openly with it, then bless it and allow it to move out of my heart. Easy? Heck no. Necessary? I think so.
There are so many items we hold dear that represent what we wanted, and what we’ve lost. What is it for you? A family heirloom, hand-me-down baby clothes, the baseball glove/dance shoes/board games saved from your own childhood? Are you ready to open up your hope chest, pull out your treasures, and perhaps let them go? A perfectly fine answer is “No.” But when the time comes that you are ready, know that many of us here at Life Without Baby have been through the process, and we came out intact.
Good luck. And please be gentle with yourself.