Hello/Goodbye August 21, 2015

an ordinary death It’s Friday and one of my favorite blogs challenges its readers to consider the “hello/goodbye” paradigm on Fridays as a way to reflect on the week before and the time coming in front of us.

So, today I began and ended the process of saying “Goodbye” to the thousands of pages of my mother’s letters that she left upon her death. You can read more about the story here. My sister joined me. We read letters, laughed, cried and tossed. And tossed. And tossed.

As we had worked through my mother’s dying process and in the months afterward in 2010, we had to toss or sell 99% of her papers and possessions. Several grandchildren have a piece of her furniture or some other memento. My sister and I each have a few items, but most had to go then. The rest went out today except for one small stack of papers I will scan in and keep for the sake of remembering this unusual woman who was my mother.

Upon our inevitable deaths, someone, or several someones, will have to say “goodbye” to all our stuff as well.. Since I know this so well, I’ve spent a lot of time culling things in the last few years. I didn’t just want to re-arrange them in nice and neat storage boxes or, God-forbid, in some sort of rented storage building. I want to leave behind only those things which really matter to me, which I love and use and which give me joy.

But as are many in my profession as writer, and in my former profession as pastor, books become my biggest challenge. Even as I carefully cull clothes and other stuff, I buy books.

So today, I’ve also said “hello” to a book on finding the world behind my head, as distractions tend to worm their way in and silence becomes more and more costly. I’m taking this on a trip to read while on the airplane, a way to get my mind off the airplane noise and discomfort and find inner peace.

One thing I know for sure: inner peace doesn’t come from stuff. And I am boxes lighter with “stuff” now than I was when this morning started.

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