Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Best Things in Life are Free

So I’ve never been completely sold on this notion. I’ve been completely and utterly thrilled with Coach purses in the past, and although I feel immense pride in our cute little English Tudor every time I pull into the driveway, the mortgage renders it far from free. But this past weekend, a “freebie” made me so happy, I cried.

One time, many moons ago, I was snooping in my mom’s walk-in closet for Christmas gifts. I’m not big on delayed gratification and I don’t have much use for surprises, so this was a ritual. I scanned the shelves in the closet, wondering if any Baby-Sitters Club books could be hidden under the scarves and purses strewn about. None. Drats. And then I saw this.

It was an old book, covered in checkered fabric. No title or anything. And then I opened it.

Right before my first birthday, my mom started a journal for me, full of her feelings on finally becoming a mother. I rifled through the pages, but decided not to read it. It’s one thing to snoop on Christmas presents (or birthday gifts, St. Nicholas stocking stuffers, etc.) but this felt really wrong. This was special, and I wanted to wait to read it until my mom decided it was my turn. So I put it back.

I kept up my gift-snooping for years, and always glanced at that shelf to make sure the book was on it. When I was 18, I moved out for college, and though I was home every holiday, my snooping ritual fell by the wayside in favor of spending my home time in the kitchen baking with my mom or on the couch watching old movies together.

After she died, I remembered the journal and went straight to her closet to get it. And it was gone. I’m pretty sure I said “frick” really loudly and then proceeded to cry for awhile while sitting on the floor of the closet. Once the tears subsided I proceeded to tear the closet apart in search of the book. No dice – it was gone.

Slowly but surely, we started going through her belongings in the closet and bedroom. It was a pokey, arduous process because of the sheer volume of items and the emotions that overwhelmed us about 15 minutes into the process each time. My dad assured me over and over again that we’d find it eventually. He plans to move soon, and before he goes, we’ll have to sort through every last item in the house. (And let me tell you – I’m so looking forward to it. Organizing 30 years worth of stuff in a house inhabited by sentimental packrats sounds like tons of fun.)

Last weekend, we sold my mom’s bedroom set. I went over a few hours before the buyers arrived to help clean out drawers and dust the furniture. When I arrived, my dad had already pulled boxes out from under the bed. And there it was. I could see it through the side of the clear plastic container – the journal. And in typical fashion, I burst into tears.

It took all the restraint I could muster to wait until I was back at my house to read it. But what a special thing to have. She wrote inconsistently throughout my life, but it was one of the most reaffirming things I could own. I can’t lie: it did reinforce how much it *sucks* that one of the only people in the world who accepted me as I am – no complaints, no directives on how I should be better – is gone. But it was the best gift I could ever have received from her.

When I have children, I absolutely want to do this for them. I may even con TJ into participating too. Having been on the receiving end of this journal and knowing the impact it immediately had on me, I want to make sure my children can have the same experience someday. I’ll just have to hide it a little better when they’re at snooping age and a little less well when there’s a greater chance they might need it!

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