The Only Key We Need
Death strips us all possessions. So it isn’t surprising that, yes, my parents left behind all their keys – a mass of keys that I combed through on the anniversary of Dad’s passing last week.
Door keys. Car keys. Keys to the post office box I still rent. Keys to who knows what. They didn’t take a one with them. They left them to me to sort through and dispose of.
I remember as a child sitting in the back seat of my parents Chevy, playing with a set of their keys. That’s before we had smart phones and television reception to entertain children in cars.
“What’s this one to?” I asked, dangling one key between my thumb and index finger. My mother craned her head to the left, between the seats.
“I don’t know,” she said. My father didn’t know, either.
I thought for sure they’d already approached senility. How could one not know what a key unlocks? I didn’t know then that you can amass so many possessions and so many keys that you lose track of what goes to what. Earlier this summer, my husband and I got out our keys.
“What’s this go to?” my husband said.
“I don’t know,” I said.
Oh goodness! I thought, standing at the kitchen table. I’ve become my parents!
The mass of keys at my parents’ house was one of the last things I packed up when I sold their house in May. I put them in a plastic bin with other last minute things, but I slugged around about deciding what to do with the stuff inside the bin until July 9th, the 12th anniversary of Dad’s passing. I then got out the keys and counted them – 43 loose and ringed keys.
I had hung onto those keys for nearly nine years waiting to discover what they matched. Except for six or so of them, I still don’t know. Obviously, whatever they went to wasn’t in their home.
Keys symbolize possession. I cling to possessions. Not in a materialistic way really but as keepsakes. As a way to hold onto memories. To hold onto people I love.
Someday I’ll leave my all my “keys,” too. All my possessions will be left for someone else to sort. To keep. To sell. To giveaway. To throw away, as I did with most of those keys.
Our mortality is a painful reality. It was never as evident to me as when I soaked in my parents’ absence among the presence of their cherished possessions. They just wouldn’t leave their stuff unless we had to. Unless they were dead. As I realized this, I felt enveloped by powerlessness.
I cannot emphasize enough the hope encapsulated within that reality because it’s only when we stop trying to be immortal on our own that we can capture a joyfully glorious immortality.
Grief is a gateway to God. Others may come along side us but they cannot completely understand our individualized loss. If we are willing, we may fully utilize the grief process to reach out for the Creator in our powerlessness, release self-effort, and offer faith in his provision to get to heaven. To have relationship with him.
My parents took only one “key” with them. It was their faith. That unlocked God’s provision and the gates of heaven.
They don’t need those keys I collected from their house anymore. When I realized my parents had what they needed, it was easier for me to let go of the keys, too.
Tell the truth. Do you have keys and don’t know what they unlock?
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