I opened it up, looked superficially at the contents, and decided there was too much to sort through.
Inside the box were three big ring binders; one full of medical information and two full of emails. There was also a box of miscellany, including the notebooks Geoff kept while he was in the hospital at various times and a lot of Get Well Soon cards, birthday cards, and some anniversary cards. I did sort through and discard most of the cards, but the rest was just a wall of documents. What had begun as an aid to my memory had become a burden.
You would think it would be easy to make a decision about this box, but it wasn’t. First, there was so much emotional energy and years of my life represented by all that stuff that it felt like a part of me. How do you cut off a piece of yourself?
Second, the writer in me thought that this would be a mine of information for a project; perhaps a memoir, or maybe just a chapter in a memoir. I have long since forgotten the chronology of events over the seven years and ten months of Geoff’s illness, but it was all there in the box. I could just refer to the data, couldn’t I? Well, no. It turns out that wasn’t easy for me to do. I couldn’t open up the data without opening myself up to all the heartache.
The hoarder in me said, “Well, if you can’t use it, maybe someone else can,” and I started to fantasize about the possibility of some other writer being able to put it to good use. But, yesterday, I decided I was fooling myself. No-one would want to read through that mountain of material in the hopes of finding some usable nuggets. So, the box had to go. Instead of a bridge to creativity, it had become an anchor.
When my eldest son dropped by yesterday, I asked him to take the box from me. I had been looking at it for a few days and gradually building up enough frustration and resentment that I was ready to let it go. I showed him what was in there, and he showed some interest in Geoff’s notebooks. Otherwise, he just looked surprised at the quantity of emails I had saved. Looking at his face and the casual way that he flipped through the pages, I realized how redundant it all was.
So, the box is gone. My son took it away and I have no idea what he is going to do with its contents. He may look through it, he may take out a few items, or he may just take the whole thing to the dump. I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. I’m just glad it’s not my problem any more. In fact, it isn’t anyone’s problem. It’s just a box of old papers.