Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

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Date: 
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Posted By: 
Gerry Sousa

I have been on the move for the last 2 years. 2 years ago, I moved from the house I shared with Dick, my late husband, and my 2 children, Nate, 24 and Beth, 21. We moved from the house that my children grew up in to a rental townhouse. I then helped Tim, my boyfriend, clean up his house to sell it so we could buy a house together. Did I also mention that I helped my son move in and out of 3 different dorm rooms, assisted in his move into a Chicago apartment, and also moved my daughter into a dorm room in these 2 years? So, I have the preposterous idea that I know a bit about moving: how you pack, where you get free boxes, how long it takes to pack a room. I’ve moved things into boxes, out of boxes, sorted them, maybe put a few things back in boxes and found a home for some things in the boxes. So much movement!

Since Tim and I have bought this home, we have been slowly unpacking our boxes and finding homes for things. But there is something that I can’t find a home for: Dick’s collection of Boston Red Sox memorabilia. I have cards, hats, signed baseballs, framed pictures, and 2 signed bats. I have packed up these items several times over the last 2 years. I moved them around in my townhouse to make more room for other things. I’ve changed how they were stored so they wouldn’t take up too much space.

Well, we got into our new house and within the first 6 weeks of owning the home, the basement flooded from a hard rain and a sump pump that got stuck and couldn’t keep up with the flow. As I discovered what was damaged, I found that some of Dick’s cards and framed pictures were damaged. Well, I went to elaborate lengths to lay them out, dry them out and then press them to see if they could get back to their original state. I tore open framed pictures in a frantic attempt to save what I could. I had put so much psychic energy into moving these possessions around the last 7 years. Now some of the items were wet and damaged. What should I do now?

I sat down and thought about it, and I realized something pretty important. I am moving on with my life (sorry for the word choice here!) and I’m so happy. All these new things in my life are there for a reason, and I’m very grateful for that every day. So why was I carrying around a collection of things that meant something to Dick so many years ago? This collection symbolized his childhood and adulthood devotion to a team that he adored his whole life. If it was important to Dick, it should be important to me. I carried that emotion for the last 7 years, hence the packing, moving, unpacking, and repacking. The collection was taking up significant space in my house, in my emotions, and in my heart.

What was I really holding onto? Is it really about the items or is it the last thing of his I’m trying to hold onto?

Well, as I was thinking about what I should do, I realized that I really know what to do. I just haven’t wanted to pull the trigger. I have been seeing subtle signs that it was time to move on with this collection. The flood was certainly a subtle sign that nothing lasts forever. I listened to a news report of a town in California that was ravaged by wildfire and where entire homes were wiped out. If our house burned down tomorrow, would I be able to move forward without this collection? I want to say yes to that! I even heard a radio podcast about a social scientist who lost her home in a fire. She declared that she couldn’t remember what she lost in the fire, but she could remember the incidents of kindness of people who offered her compassion during that process. It’s coming together for me now.

I have a plan: I have a baseball card/memorabilia dealer that has offered his services. I’ll talk with my kids about them looking over everything and keeping a couple of things as their own keepsakes. I’ll do the same. My deadline is by the end of the year.

I don’t know how Dick would have handled a collection of mine, and that’s ok. There have been some milestones on this widow’s journey where I have hesitated and not entirely been sure what to do next. Then signs appeared before me to guide me. The flood was a sign that it is ok to let the collection go and have the memories stay in my heart. It’s the right thing to do.

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