What remains behind when we go?
A dozen or so boxes of my mom’s well-kept, well-loved journals, letters, and photos, packed in a small storage unit, patiently awaiting readers. A last night in a now-empty, now-creaky old house, the shell of my childhood memories, mostly filled with the noise of laughter, talk, imagination, music, mayhem, warmth. History with a place that’s still largely peopled by the same neighbors, same doctors, same cats and squirrels. Supportive, caring community from one of the most improbable of places: an assisted living facility that now feels like home. Longtime friends of my family who, through these many months of sharing so many endings together, have now become friends and family, breaking bread and breaking into smiles over many a meal (often at Denny’s and always with coupons; this is, after all, mid-Michigan).
I take leave of this place as an orphan, ragged, torn, and likely sad-eyed. Yet I’m taking so much more with me than I came with, or ever could have imagined I’d find. Every beginning does necessitate a death of something, as is often said, and though there’s no equivalency to be measured in all the losses that have passed through my heart this year versus the surprisingly exemplary practices of care and love in East Lansing that I’ve been honored to stumble on, I seem to be arriving as much as I’m leaving.
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If you’ve run across this blog post as a reposting somewhere, you can find other blog-musings and more polished essays at Outside the Circle, cbmilstein.wordpress.com. Share, enjoy, and repost — as long as it’s free as in “free beer” and “freedom.”
(Photo by Cindy Milstein, East Lansing, MI, October 2013)