There’s a certain high you get when you complete a deep clean and purge on a space leaving it fresh and uncluttered. Since starting the Home Organization Challenge from A Bowl Full of Lemons, I’ve experienced that high a couple times already, first with my kitchen and then with my pantry/laundry room. There’s not much to my dining area otherwise I would have said three times. Ha!
Last night, though, I went pretty low as I enlisted my husband’s help in letting go of something that had strong emotional ties connected with it.
Several years ago…either during college or soon after I graduated…my sweet Gran had sewn a Christmas tree skirt for me. The fabric she chose reflected the obsession I had with
snowmen (snow people?) at the time. It was whimsical and skillfully made. It was also the last thing I remember her sewing for me.
There was a time that it was in storage because I was either in a place where I had no space for a Christmas tree or I just didn’t need a tree because I was living with my parents.
When I was gathering all my Christmas decor our first Christmas in our new home, I found it. Unfortunately, I soon learned that either mice or rats had found it, too. Not only had they been inconsiderate enough to (ahem) poop all over it, but they had chewed at least one rather large hole in it.
It broke my heart, y’all.
Especially since she had passed away the year before and that pain was still so fresh that I was clinging to anything and everything she had given me in the past.
I felt a lot of guilt because I hadn’t packed it away as securely as I thought I had. As if it were my fault the rodents chewed their way into the box where the skirt was stored.
It’s been in a plastic bag, sitting in various places in the pantry/laundry room since 2016.
I held onto it for the very reason I wrote above – it’s felt impossible to part with anything given to me by her because she’s gone.
After throwing my previous cell phone in extreme frustration one day and losing voice messages from her that I had been obsessively saving for months…the regret I felt when I realized those messages were gone forever was so intense.
So, I determined I would clean and fix the tree skirt. Surely if I cleaned it with boiling hot water and soap…surely if I cleaned it enough times…there would be nothing harmful left on the fabric from the mouse/rat feces. Surely, I wouldn’t remember seeing it on the skirt. And surely I would be able to find a cute, coordinating fabric with which to make a patch that would cover the evidence of what had been the rodents’ “dinner”.
For over a year, I’ve held onto it with that intention, but when Christmas 2017 rolled around…the exact occasion to use it again…I couldn’t bring myself to pull it from the bag and work on it. I couldn’t expel the image of mice/rats ruining it from my imagination. Frankly, I just can’t imagine ever seeing it as clean again.
After wrestling mentally and emotionally for a week now, I finally asked my husband, through choking tears, to throw it in the trash bin for collection this morning. I didn’t want to do it in the house trash where I could change my mind and drag it out again.
Not after finally reconciling to my aching heart that throwing it away wasn’t a betrayal to Gran.
Not after finally recognizing that doing this couldn’t hurt her feelings.
Not after finally remembering that it’s really her love for me that went into creating and gifting the tree skirt to me that meant more than the skirt itself.
Not after finally admitting that I would never be able to look at it without imagining rodents crawling all over it, chewing it up and using it as their “litter box”.
It hurts. Letting go, even when necessary, hurts. Especially when you’re letting go of something that reminds you of someone you love so much and miss more than words can describe.
At the end of the day though, despite how sad I am to lose it, I feel confident I made the best choice.
I just wish the letting go wasn’t so hard.