Throwing Away Memories

originally published on 

My wife and I are moving to a new home so that, of course, means getting this house cleaned out and ready to sell.  And so, today, I began to work through the little drawer in the corner of my office; the one that holds notes and cards, pictures and papers.  The one little place where my memories live on, frozen in time.

How do you choose what memories to throw away?

 I found in my litle chest of memories a binder full of newsletters I made for the Bible study I helped run back at Mentor High School.  It's a virtual library of old things I used to write... a blog on paper form!  I don't need to keep multiple copies of each newsletter... but how many should I keep?  3?  5?  Just recycle them all?

 How do I choose which memories are ok to keep?

 I'm very happily married; I love my wife and she is without a doubt the most important woman in my life.  So what do I do with all these notes and letters from the women who shaped me into the man that I am now?  Is it ok to keep the getting-to-know-you letters from Kim in 1996... do I keep the ones from 2000 telling me thanks for being a good man, thanks for helping her grow, now she's found the love of her life?  What about the letters from Jen when we fought because she started dating someone else?  Allen's random notes that are just as funny today as they were when I was 16?  Or the note of encouragement from Jessica after my speech running for Student Coucil President (my platform was "No New Taxes")?

These memories of men and women, their stories and how they collided, were are part of, and tore away from mine... what do I keep?  How can I send them off to be collected with the rest of our trash to be collected some Friday morning?  And yet, what need do I have of them other than to look at them the next time I rearrange furniture and decide to throw away a few more..?

How in the world do I decide what memories to keep and what to let slip away?

Somehow, mixed in with all these other keepsakes, is a stack of greeting cards that my dad had given to my mom.  Some cute, some saucy, and some full of apology.  Is this something to keep for my kids who will never meet their grandmother?  They're just cards... veyr few words written in them.  Who am I to decide that this card goes in the trash, while that one I let sit in this drawer another twenty years.

And if I don't decide to let it go... do I want my kids to have to make that choice?  Do I want my grandkids to see these memories?  The story of how I grew up will be lost on my grandkids if I don't tell them... do I leave these notes and pictures of people they won't know lying aroud so I can keep them as a visual aid?  Which of these stories will change the live of my grandkids that they tell their grandkids..?

 And if I only have half a drawer of notes and papers and photos... how many memories have I already lost?