Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Objects of Detachment

Years ago I decided to simplify my life and get rid of all my junk. I went through my things and tossed anything I could not justify keeping. It took a while, but by the time I was finished, I had gotten rid of every single shoe box, piece of trendy clothing, magazine, greeting card, etcetera, I had kept for years. In order to avoid such a tremendous project in the future, I made it my practice to throw away things I didn't need as soon as I could. It wasn't hard getting used to detachment. This detachment of things perhaps led to detachment of people--a certain hard-earned independence and strength to endure heartache of any kind.

My grandmother used to write me short, little notes. These notes were an indirect reminder that it was about time I sent her some money, but she always threw in a wise, loving message that would make me feel things were going to be just fine. I was more than happy to pay in exchange for her comforting words. The last note she wrote to me and the only one I kept, I carry with me in my wallet. It reads (in Spanish):

"God willing, you will be content and happy and I wish you the best. I can't see very well any more, but I will see when I can see you. Your Nana"

The day after my mother passed away, I went to my sister's house. I noticed she had set up photographs of our mother and lit candles by the fireplace . There were some greeting cards, which I assumed were sympathy cards from her friends. On closer inspection, I discovered that not all the cards were sympathy cards. Some were birthday cards our mother had given to her. My mother's sweet and loving written words induced a pain of loss I had never felt before, but then, extreme envy took over. I tried to recall if I still had birthday cards from my mother. I rushed home and searched every corner of my apartment, looking for one, just one. I am still looking. There has to be one somewhere.

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