Maybe the Egyptians had it right. When nobility breathed their last, their mummified bodies would be placed in a pyramid with all the food, drink, furniture, clothes, and jewelry necessary to use in the afterlife. All those things, all those belongings, all with no question of where they would end up. Freeing up the living to go on living without the trappings of the departed one’s chattels and the memories that cling to them. Egyptian blood may have coursed through Keith’s veins, but the ancient practice of sending him off with all his worldly possessions is no more. Time and time again, I’ve witnessed our modern sensibilities dissolve in the face of what to do with all the “stuff” left behind.
It’s been a year and a half now. I’m still surrounded with all the things Keith would have carried into the afterlife in an ancient world long gone. Dust covers everything in the garage in silent testimony to the decay of a once glorious man cave. There’s a trunk in my bedroom full of watches, shirts, jackets – once worn by the king of our little palace. Every room bulges with furniture handed down from the queen mother to her son. We are all ready – his children, myself, my son – to claim what we want, disperse the stuff, get rid of the undesirable parts of the clutter. And yet a strange thing happens – we hold those things in our hands, we gaze on them, and they become more than stuff. As if they were infused with the essence of Keith, as if they have drank in all the memories of who we were when he was alive, and we step away, turn our backs to what has to happen. The lid to the trunk closes, we pass on pulling up a moving truck, the dust continues to pile up as if to enshrine the memories evoked by all those things.
For so many years, Keith would baffle me with his need to hang on to everything that belonged to his mother. For 10 years, we shelled out a fortune on a storage unit to hold her things that wouldn’t fit into our house. There were so many fine pieces of furniture but mixed in between them were boxes of soap, empty cleaning bottles, stained dishrags, broken hangers, worn out stockings. I never understood it until now. But I can’t hold on. It’s time to let go. Touching, seeing, smelling, feeling this “stuff” won’t bring him back. Letting it go won’t lessen the memories. I can’t move into my next life, my new life, my afterlife clinging to the things. I have to remind myself it really is just stuff. I just wish I knew how.