There are certain things I will never let go of, that I will take with me into the afterlife, tucked into my soul. Its not like I’m trying to haul a pile of gold with me, so I think I can sneak it in.
The ongoing paper doll sagas that my sister, Carla, and I created that involved upending every hard backed book in the house to make rooms that turned into houses that stretched from my room through the hall and into her room. Our combined imaginations took us all sorts of places every day. I never remember being bored.
The indescribable love I experienced when I gave birth to my son, Patrick. He was born in a mess of health complications, two months early and loudly complaining, despite his undeveloped lungs. Nothing in the world prepares you for that moment when the tiniest of beings wraps their fist around your finger, tying your heart in knots that will never be untangled.
The comfort of knowing I am loved by my husband, Chris, for all time. It is that simple. It is that momentous.
The words of the birthday card my mom gave me the last year she was alive, that told me beyond a shadow of doubt that she loved me fiercely, despite our tumultuous relationship.
The stealth love of a brother, Brad, the two of us the last of the original six. No matter what, we are there for each other. We might not be happy about it, might voice our displeasure, but still, there.
There are also many things I have had to let loose, not by choice but by circumstance. The first fracture of heart was my dad, who slipped into the sky while I was riding a school bus back from Girl Scout camp on a Friday afternoon. At the tender age of just turned 10, when dads still know everything and can fix anything, I saw him, stilled by a heart attack, sitting in his car. But when I think of him, I think of a man who played badminton with us the weekend before when none of the other adults would. I think of him in motion. I can let go of his motionless body but not his ever bounding soul. A fine, fine mingling.
Every single doll or toy or dress made by my mom that I had until I was 10, almost 11, and a house fire ravaged my life and took with it my sisters, Carla and Penny. That was the day I learned, things don’t matter. Don’t matter at all. My mom, my brother and I moved on to other houses, other toys, other dolls, other dresses. My sisters were irreplaceable and the hole that day burned in my heart will never close until it beats its final sound. I have let go of the sadness, of the what ifs, of the anger, of the interminable question of how to celebrate their birthdays and honor their passing. I hold on to the moments of having sisters, doing the silly things little girls do, of seeing their eyes looking at me from my nieces faces. I hold on to knowing that as far away as they are, they are near. The finest of minglings.
There are so many others that left this world in that glint of light and shadow. I carry pieces of them with me, poked in my pockets, checking to make sure they are still there, shining. The brilliant laughter of Colly, the wisdom and truth seeking of Keith, the young dreams of Wendy, the sardonic wit of Bill and the big hugs of another Bill, the heart of Jason, the love of Deb and Don, the spitfire soul of Kaitlynn, the preacher who said it like it was Skip, the friendship of light in Jordan. They spray painted my heart with a graffiti of love and it can never be erased. A pocketful of minglings.
I have let go of asking “Why?” It is a question with no other answer than, “I don’t know.” No matter what words you use to ask why, the answer always comes back to the brittleness of not knowing. I hold onto to the questions of “what” and “how’ because they have shown me how to move forward, to rebuild a shattered heart, to celebrate birthdays when the years have ended. A practical fine mingling.
I hold onto the love of friends, of wild angels and cousins and let go of the betrayals and hurts of those who dressed like friends but were skeletons of pretense. I tenderly hold the twisted wreckage of my first marriage that gave me a child of everything and thrust me on a path that led to this life that I love and constantly amazes me with its colors, its dances and its wonders. I have let go, at least most of the time, of the indefatigable anger of that practice marriage that incensed all of me for a time. I have to admit, that every now and then in my writing I create a character that I come to despise and realize there’s still residual ash on my fingers and work to do on forgiveness. A messy, less than fine mingling.
So I ask you, in these waning days of 2014 and expanding minutes of daily sunlight, what fine mingling have you? What do you hold so close it is skinlike and what floats away from you like the flotsam of life? Dare you be bold enough to share with others? If so, post a comment. If not, be bold in your heart and turn it over in your mind.