I’ve been packing this week, as our new house should be ready to move into on Friday. This is our fifth house to build, and I guess you’d have to say we enjoy the process. I don’t enjoy the packing, though … but, honestly, I don’t know anyone who does. It is hard work and quite overwhelming if you allow it to be. This time around I have been more organized and didn’t let it slip up on me. I’m on a strict packing schedule and am actually quite ahead, which explains why I am taking time to write this blog. I can remember a move where my husband, Bill, and I were lying on the living room floor at 3.00 a.m. before the movers arrived at 7:00 a.m. Things were still hanging on the walls and I said, “Honey, I just don’t think we are going to make it this time.” But we always somehow manage to get it all done.
I never thought of myself as a packrat but I realize, as I get older, that I, most likely, would be diagnosed in that way … especially, if you looked in our basement. The difference for me, as compared to others, is I am an organized pack rat. When we were young the boxes were fewer because we hadn’t lived as long. After five decades, the boxes seem to have multiplied exponentially. I am determined to lighten our load this time around. It may take me the next year but we are going to let go of some things we have been holding onto for too long.
I can only speak for myself, but I have the most trouble getting rid of the things that belonged to our children. They have long ago given me permission to give things away, but I somehow can’t manage to do so. I never wanted to be like John Mayer’s mother and have them ask me, “Whatever happened to my lunchbox?” It isn’t so much that I love the things as much as I love what they represent. Stuffed animals from warm places visited long ago and far away… collections of books, Barbies, Beanie Babies, Star Wars, Legos, Ninja Turtles, pogs, Polly Pockets (of which I have all the tiny pieces), Crayons and coloring books that house the masterpieces I can readily identify by age. I can still see my kid’s faces when they acquired these treasures … the joy these toys brought into their play. To discard them seems so final; so sad. Instead, we boxed them up and moved them house after house, year after year, and they currently sit quietly keeping each other company in boxes in the basement.
We recently watched a painfully sad movie called Christopher Robin. It was about the life of A.A. Milne’s son whom the Winnie the Pooh books were written for. Christopher Robin with all his friends in the Hundred Acre Woods … his stuffed animals — Pooh, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo are part of the family for us. I was captured with a line from the movie when Christopher Robin said as an all grown up man reflecting back on his childhood, “Childhood was wonderful. It was the growing up that was hard.”
I wanted to freeze all the moments of our kids’ childhood. Each phase was cherished and incredibly delightful. I would dare say we enjoyed our children as much as anyone possibly could. The day our son, Lance, was born, our hearts melted when we saw his dark hair and eyes … all 9 lbs 8 oz of him! He skipped the newborn size altogether. Rachel was the beautiful 8 pd 13 oz blue-eyed, blonde-headed baby girl of our dreams. We knew God had given us the children we had prayed for. They made us proud, made us laugh, made us feel joy and made us cry. The emotion wrapped up in these little bundles of joy is excruciating. As they reached their teenage years we held on to every day, to every milestone, knowing they were numbered under our roof. Our family grew up. Bill and I circled the world with them for almost twenty years, but now once again we set the table for just two.
If this life were all there was, it would seem cruel. Knowing this life isn’t the main event makes this tearing apart more bearable. For those who know Jesus, we are assured we will spend eternity with him and our family members in heaven. One line I love from the book Desiring God, “Only one thing satisfies the heart whose treasure is in heaven: doing the works of heaven. And heaven is a world of love!” Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” I rejoice in these words, as I know I will spend eternity with our children.
We now have two grandchildren who aren’t babies anymore. Each time we are apart, we know the next time we see them they will have replaced something cherished from their baby years with new experiences (most that we miss). It is the nature of the cycle of life. It is almost more than the heart can handle. To love these little lives so deeply is a risky thing. We are laid bear with our hearts exposed knowing, at the very least, time is a thief. So, the choice is ours as it was from the start. Do we choose to give life and love to these souls whom we know will loosen themselves from our grasp with each passing day? Yes, yes! I would do it all again without a moment’s hesitation. The fullness and richness brought to my life through these children far exceed the pain of loss.
Yes, I would once again dismantle their rooms and lovingly place their toys and treasures into boxes in the basement only to know that, all these years later, we are once again moving those boxes to the next house with us. It seems a small price to pay to avoid the finality of their childhood. I know the day will come when I clear out the basement and sweep it clean, but for today I will say like Winnie the Pooh, “Oh bother.” I’m holding the hugs, kisses, tears, laughter, and smiles of our children in a box in the basement.
“Love is taking a few steps backward, maybe even more…to give way to the happiness of the person you love.” – Winnie The Pooh