I survived the yard sale without any major kick from grief to my insides. I’m not sure whether to celebrate that fact or bemoan it. The absence of grief is in itself a grief.
I snapped a photo of my father’s fire engine red tool box at the feet of the buyer. I took other photos of the tables of dishes, including the plastic plates our family ate from year after year.
I didn’t feel the sharp ping that I’d felt during our 2012 yard sale, when things walked out of my driveway and out of my life – pieces of my parents I’d never regain.
In fact, it was around that time, three years after my mother’s death, that I experienced a grief over losing grief. I mourned the loss of the intensity of sorrow.
It still puzzles me why we do that.
I should have known better. I’ve been grieving long enough to know. But because I didn’t think ahead, I planned the last grand sale of my parents’ belongings right before Father’s Day.
And right before “death month” – July. Both my parents died in the month of July, three years apart. Every year I march toward the month and replay their lives and my loss. I go over to their home on the anniversaries, go through their things and decide what to keep and what not to keep.
It’s a common ritual for the living, that of deciding to do with what the dead left behind. For some, the task is too painful. They assign the job to a friend, or even hire out the work. Others madly toss stuff in boxes that get put into storage. They put their grief behind lock and key.
I thought I’d never reach the so-called “acceptance” stage of grief, and I didn’t want to. How dare anyone think I’d consent to my parents being ripped from my life?
And yet I find myself in a strange place. After a multi-year strangle-hold on my parents’ belongings – which helped me feel close to them – I’m letting go of items far too easily.