There has been an epidemic of burglaries in our area. A woman in my yoga class had her car, with her purse in it, stolen right out of her driveway.
It started me thinking about what I’d be most upset to lose, materially speaking. There’s my computer, which would suck because my work and in many ways my life is now stored on it. I would hate to lose the smartphone upon which I’ve become stupidly dependent. Losing my wallet would be a hassle. But the things I would hate most to lose have zero value to a thief, though their value to me is incalculable.
Here are the three things I would hate most to lose. I know they look like the remnants of a horribly depressing estate sale, but they are the possessions I hold most dear.
My mom wrote “Sunday, Monday, and Always” when she was thirteen. I read this book obsessively as a child, because in a way it was as if my mom was introducing me to her adolescent self. I learned it’s true: the child is mother to the woman.
There’s Feven, the stuffed dog, cuddled, clutched, and cried into, valiantly shepherding me to safety through numerous childhood traumas, stoically bearing his battle scars. In my teens, I tried to replace his eye in an inept but heartfelt attempt to pay him back for all he endured.
There’s my original fifth grade copy of Jane Eyre. The faded circle on the front is where I would balance my tea cup. Other books come and go, but this one resides next to every bed in every place I’ve ever lived, because when sleep eludes me or I feel sick or scared or sad, I can count on honest, passionate Jane to keep me company.
In these I see my past, my self, in every aspect, including their physical deterioration.
Somehow, contemplating losing them makes them more precious but also more expendable. I realize that it was never about prizing the symbol over internalizing the symbol’s spirit, and giving thanks for its gifts. I’m grateful to still have them, but even more grateful for their significance, which gives me everything I need to let them go.