One of the hardest things about my Summer of Grief (as I am now dramatically calling it) is that I was surrounded, yes, surrounded by items of my mother’s life. As I’ve mentioned, my mother wasn’t a great collector. She collected a handful of porcelain dolls (The Little Women series, and a few others) and Santa Clauses. I’m not really sure even when the Santa Claus collection began; I tend to believe my mother received one, declared, “Yes, this is a collection,” and just began to receive more.
It wasn’t easy being inundated by so many of her precious items; what did help me return to my self (not myself but my self, two separate words) was once again being surrounded by my precious items. Returning to my husband and furkids, of course, was a major part of that. But I love knickknacks and items and things in the way only a child raised in a rather utilitarian household would. My dad enjoys “gadgets,” as my mother called it–“Your dad’s a gadget man,” she would often say, “Buying some thing or another always”–and she had her Santas and dolls, but there were few knickknacks in our house when I was growing up, and those we had were confined to a curio cabinet.
I, however, collected everything and, in great Victorian fashion, covered every available surface in things. I would joke, only partially joke, really, that if someone came over and stood still long enough, I would stick something on them. It’s true; my house is covered in things.
I love my things. I know, yes, they are unimportant. They are, after all, just things: bits and bobs that don’t mean much in the Grand Scheme. However, they are mine, and they make me happy.
Returning home to my space, with my smells, covered in my things–and dog hair; eternally covered in dog hair–helped to center me. It’s no wonder I went a bit batty with retail therapy, shopping at Target for new sheets, some new knickknacks, things, things, things. It grounded me, helped me reclaim my space and declare it mine.
What do I collect? Well, I collect owl and octopus artifacts: jewelry, knickknacks, now, a lovely scarf. Fleur de lis anything; even my wedding ring is fleur de lis decorated. Coffee cups, of course, especially ones as souvenirs. I also collect action figures, solely of the female superheroine persuasion. I have quite the hefty post-it obsession, which kicks into my OCD: I must organize, always and forever, and eternally label, label, label.
But one thing I didn’t realize I did collect was cards.
I have hundreds of them, bought over the years because they were pretty, and never sent because so much of the time, who has the time? Handwriting a card? For reals? Pshaw. Yet, and yet, in my quest to find something to center me, I chose to become A Woman of Letters ™. I have begun sending cards, these precious, hoarded cards, to so many people that I had to buy three more books of stamps just to accommodate!
So I collect, and I give away, letting go of the grief, or just confronting it, one painful word at a time.