When we got moved in to the new house, I realized what a mess it really was. Boxes were missing, some of our stuff had gotten ruined when a basement where we had things stored flooded, and many items were lost in the move. One item that turned up missing was a box with my personal files in it. All of the files were very important and special to me, but one of the files was an accumulation of memories of my dad…his will, the letter he wrote me before he died, newspaper articles about him, mementos from his funeral, a genealogy he worked on before his death, cards, pictures, and a lifetime of other stuff that I had deemed important enough to keep all those years.
I searched for that box for about three years, never allowing myself to believe it was actually gone. I would not permit myself to even think about it. Once I realized it really was gone, I was heartbroken. I felt like my dad had died for a second time. Now, not only was he gone, but all of his memories were gone as well. I have refused to even think about it because it is so crushing to me and I have hated myself for ever letting it out of my sight.
Fast forward to a couple of weekends ago (no, I didn’t find the files!) Todd and I decided to take Bella for a walk to a piece of land called “the love tunnel”. I’m assuming it’s called this because (1) it’s a tunnel and (2) it’s spray painted with all sorts of expressions of love. When Todd and I were in high school, we added our names to the tunnel, along with a date that had a special meaning to us. I had not been up there in many years and my curiosity piqued as to what I would see when I got there. Well, it was gone. Not a trace of those two young, naive kids who believed our love was as invincible as that spray paint.
But in that moment as I searched the tunnel wall for any sign of the dedication of our love, I realized something very important. I didn’t need to “see” the painted words in order to remember that day almost thirty years ago and what we wrote. And I don’t need to “see” the file I kept on my dad to remember how much I loved him and how much he loved me. I also don’t need to “see” all the important people in my life to remember what they mean to me. My love and my memories of all the special people I have loved throughout my life are in a much safer place than a tunnel wall or a file…they are in my heart. That’s the place where they will never get lost and where they will never fade. So, I’m forgiving myself for losing that file, I’m going to stop worrying that without the “things” I might one day forget my dad, and I’m just going to remember… because as long as I remember, the people I love will never be forgotten.