Monday, May 14, 2012

Is it worth the weight?

When Andy DeJong gave our wedding message in 1990, his recurring phrase was, "Was it worth the wait?"  At the time that irritated me a little, as it was clearly directed to Bob, who was 35 years old, but I was only 21 and had not waited that long!  However, that phrase has now come back to me but with a different spelling.

Bob usually left the packing to me:-)
I am beginning the packing process.  When we leave, Noah and I will each get to carry two 50 lb. suitcases of our household belongings, for a total of 200 lbs.  When we moved here, we had four of us, and because we were frequent flyers with Delta, we each were able to take three 50 lb. suitcases, for a total of 600 lbs.  For our tip back in June, we were able to get a better price on a different carrier, not Delta, so we will only be able to carry two bags each.
Leaving for Liberia in 2005

So I am beginning the "is it worth the weight" debate as I consider the many and various items in our house.  Clothing is heavier than you might think.  Add to that books? Pictures?  Electronics?  Files?  Receipts?  Favorite beddings, towels, kitchen items?  Gifts received in-country - especially unique carvings that are heavy?  But where the weight debate really gets weighty is in making decisions regarding things about Bob.  I have finally been able to give his clothes away, except for a few favorite items.  But as I sort through the contents of a drawer or closet, I find more things that remind me of his life in this house:
  • his doodles and drawings and comments and notes in countless journals and papers - in many ways he was such an artist...these will certainly add up in terms of weight...Is it worth it?  The alternative would be the trash - seems harsh.
  • a glass 9 x 13 baking dish that has gone from Prospect Street to Liberia to Ghana.  This was a debate item for us because I knew that we could purchase that item in-country AND there was the risk of it breaking , but Bob loved that baking dish, and so it made the journey.  It is sad to think that the glass dish outlived Bob.  But now, is it worth the weight?
  • a box of pens that has only three of his red felt tip pens left in it.  Again, not much weight but an open box of pens from someone who loved writing and was so good at it worth the weight?
  • cords upon cords that I have no idea where they go to or what they were sentimental value here but I would love to ask him what they go to...I also fear getting back to the US, having Noah ask where the cord is for this or that, and I realize that I trashed it.
  • an almost empty perfume bottle that Bob gave me
  • passport pictures of Bob - again, not much weight but since the alternative is trash, do I really throw those away?
Of course, the most painful thing is that I am about to leave the last place that Bob lived.  Never again will I experience the simultaneous joy and pain of opening a drawer and finding something from him.  Never again will his imprint be on the things that make a home a home.  Even if I took a lot of these pieces back and scattered them around a new home, I would know that they were place by me and not him.  And so, it's like losing him again, with each decision I make of suitcase versus trash. 

One of our favorite movies is the Shawshank Redemption.  At one point in the movie, the main character utters the haunting phrase, "Get busy living, or get busy dying."   The idea behind this quote is that we can spend our time looking backward or looking forward.  I need to get busy living and I am determined to do so.  But the next few weeks may involve dying just a little.