a list of the things that I cannot throw away

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the half-filled journal with pink gel polka dots that documented the internal wars of my teenage years

a sombrero that I wore on my fifteenth birthday

the nestled infinity cross necklace that someone gave me in December on a bench outside of Pier One

issue after issue of the New Yorker that I have spent months purchasing and merely a few hours reading

the broken keychain sweet grass basket that my friend and I found at a roadside stand outside Charleston

the printed pictures–shoved into secret boxes, file cabinets, desktop organizers–of me and a man in times when we were happy

the puzzle that I got at a Christmas gift exchange–sat steadily on my bookshelf for a year and half as I tell myself that someday I will put it together

the note that my introverted brother wrote for my birthday on a piece of notebook paper, saying all the things that I didn’t know were in his mind

the dinosaur stuffed animal from a dear friend who has endured stormy times both with me and alone

the Lotus Biscoff cookie that the flight attendant gave me on one of my flights to London, slowly being smashed to dust

the coffee cup that my friend brought back from Santa Barbara–even though it has a chip right on the rim

the set of six geographical travel-like documentaries that my brother gave me years ago, still trapped in folding disc-cases, unwatched

my rock collection from elementary school

the rap music sheet my favorite community college teacher gave me to sing for a project on Maud Gonne

the shawl and scarf that I brought back from Honduras


maybe in some small way, hoarding is understandable.
When you realize that time moves like water, and the memories that you thought were stone start to fade, and the emotions you felt at one point make only a distant echo into what you are feeling today…
When you feel like you are blind, and the faces of your once dearest friends and lovers almost seem unrecognizable and distant, like you have closed your eyes for a moment and can no longer remember their defining features or the color of their eyes when they cry.
When people that walked hand-in-hand with you are snatched up, by life or death, in an instant, and the future you constructed turns from a wedding dress to ashes within one phone call.
When you can flip the calendar pages almost without blinking, and feel that you are getting older, but as desperately as you try to hold the hours back, they only come rushing faster
When you feel like you cannot save yourself, save others, save memories, save time, then you can hold a picture, a rock, a gift–something material in your hands that you can touch and feel and hold and keep as long as you need it.
I understand because this is me.
Maybe it is you too.

But even still: My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

Do not lose hope. 

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