at the top of the hall closet - was a small overnight suitcase - paperboard - striped pattern - inside, were all the scraps of paper from daddys life. when he died - my sisters - the youngest and oldest - disagreed over the sacredness of that suitcase - we all knew it existed - no one had ever dared to peek inside - it held untold pieces of his life - our lives - we whispered - as brothers and sisters often do - it held the adoption papers of whichever one of us seemed less at the time - later, when we packed momma up and moved her from their home to a new home for herself - all her own - momma gave me daddys suitcase - i had it for a week before i opened it - and then it was by accident - it had become so old and worn that at some point daddy had tied a strip of t-shirt fabric around it to help hold it shut - so i sat down in the middle of my bedroom floor and - dealt.
there were no adoption papers - there were newspaper articles on distant cousins - images of people who looked like someone i should know - but sadly didn't - wedding announcements - birth announcements - paycheck stubs - union cards - various wallets - cigarette lighters with his name and initials scratched into the sides - a permanent forever signature - as i rubbed my finger tips across those scratches - my mind wandered ..
what matters most... when all is said and done .. it's not the things you hang onto or have that make you who you are - i don't think - i spend a good part of my day sorting through treasures, trinkets and junk people leave behind - things they thought they couldn't do without - pieces of lives that in some way helped define a who or a where - the stories i encounter would depress many - lives torn apart and discarded - it's hard sometimes to make the decision to toss something, something someone thought enough to place behind lock and key, away from danger and harm - mostly cards from grandmothers, letters from sons and daughters barred from society, photos of forgotten children, a toy, an odd brooch or two.
what i know - hold what is here and now. reach out and say
i love you-
i miss you
i am sorry if i hurt you.
and in doing this, i think we become who we were meant to be.