I used to hold onto everything. Toys from my childhood, things that brought back painful memories, things I thought gave me an identity, and even people who took away my dignity and self-respect.
Then there were the people who had passed. So devastated I was that I held tightly onto the things I received from them and boxed them up as if the memories might escape.
Last year, when my elderly friend passed who I’d known since I was small, I thought about how another light had passed from this word. Even in her ripe old age, she was popular and always had people visiting. She always had stories to tell and a smile which made her eyes twinkle as she did.
At her funeral, I found myself riveted by some of the stories I hadn’t heard before. Of days from another era but which were powerful enough to be told with vivid, poignant detail in the church. Life stories of both joy and sadness. Life being lived.
She wasn’t remembered for what she owned, but her relationships, the way she made people feel, and the stories she made through living her life.
It was thoughts like these which reminded me that stuff isn’t important, and allowed me to get rid of some of the physical memorabilia of close relatives who’d passed.
After all, my uncle Gordy wasn’t his Dick Turpin mug, and I have so many joyful memories of him that I didn’t need the mug to remember him by. He wouldn’t want me to keep memories of him in some dark, breezy attic, but to be living my life like I was the life and soul of my own party – just like he did.
I also passed on my nan’s beloved dog plushie to my toddler daughter who loves it and gives it the kind of cuddles my nan used to. That plushie is getting far more love and attention than it ever did sitting sadly on my dresser, and when she gets older, I can tell her the funny stories of how her great grandma spoke to it every night.
I decided I wanted to not hold onto the relics of these people’s lives anymore, but to honour their memories by living my own light while remembering theirs, thus continuing to share slices of their light with the world.
Live lightly. Be a light in others lives. Pass the light on.
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