"The Grateful Shelf"
"A time to keep and a time to throw away."
I like to keep everything--tied up with pretty string, filed away in colored folders, or packed in boxes. I'm like my mother. When my mother died, I did not relish going through her house and disposing of her goods.
I was prepared for tears but not for the things that triggered them. I thought when I saw her favorite worn chair, or her beloved teakettle, or her walking cane, it would get to me. But it was the sight of dozens of little unimportant things wrapped up in plastic bags and sealed with rubber bands that finished me off. Even as I write this, I am crying. But that's all right--there's a time to remember!
My sister and I felt like reluctant thieves, rummaging through someone's personal belongings. But it had to be done. There's a time to keep, but there's a time to throw away--and that time had come.
As we went about our necessary work, closed up in the silence of our deep sorrow, I realized how precious a time this was for both my sister and me. This was a time we could take "mother memories" and wrap them up more carefully than even the little plastic packets we found, tie them with the strings of love, and place them safely on the grateful shelf of our hearts. It was a time to throw away, but it was a time to keep as well, and we held each other, my sister and I, and thanked God for motherhood and daughterhood, sisterhood and family!
For further study: Ecclesiastes 3:1-6