I found her wedding ring at the bottom of the box. Her birth certificate, death certificate, and passport in the same box mixed together with decades of birthday cards and letters. Open the box. Toss them in. Don’t look back. Memories to revisit later. Or much later. Or never.
As I wade through these boxes I’m beginning to understand. Looking back is hard. Especially when the grief is raw. Especially in a culture that doesn’t travel the journey of death and grief very well. Among the stacks of condolences my dad received when my mom died I found a card from some dear friends in Ireland. It indicated that my mother would be remembered at mass every week for a month and then again on the anniversary of her death. In some cultures looking back is ritualized.
Now, these boxes are my ritual of looking back to capture these memories before we lose them. I’m grateful my grandmother’s ring is still attached to the personal effects tag from either the hospital or funeral home that took care of her when she died. So many other wedding and engagement rings I’m finding offer no clue about the owner. For all the looking there is nothing to see beyond the gold and diamonds. No memories or stories released to dance through this moment and future moments. Yes, it is a dance of intense emotion, of laughter and tears. For such is the journey of looking back.
Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org