Thursday, April 14, 2011

Collecting Dust


Although some don’t like to admit it, there are “things” that help to fill an empty spot in our hearts. They seem to take on different forms for different people, but there is one common thread; comfort. So we keep them around, displaying them on our in-tables as decoration for unknowing eyes. And sometimes we display them regardless of their unpleasant appearance, at least for a little while, because deep down it means something to our aching heart.

There is a bouquet of dead flowers sitting on my desk that I can’t bring myself to dispose of. They represent something I loved and lost.

Come to think of it, there are just over a dozen material treasures I have hidden, in plain sight, that remind me of my past. Sometimes the mess I live in; clothing, paperwork, books, etc cover them up. And sometimes, my eye turns blind to their familiar presence. Consequentially, I have involuntarily and momentarily forgotten their meaning, as they have become a part of the d├ęcor and general ambiance of my room.

Every now and then, however painful it may be, I take some time to run my fingers over these dusty belongings and remind myself of their meaning. Their monetary value is no match for the sentimental value I retain them for.

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Six years ago, I received one of those treasures in an envelope addressed to my brother, Brandon, and I. My junior prom was only two weeks away and I hadn’t bought a dress yet. In fact, I hadn’t had the money, time, or energy I needed to go shopping for one. My stomach tied itself in a knot as I tore the envelope open, slowly.

Just three weeks before that day, I waited for my dad to pick me up to take me dress shopping. After an hour or two of frustration and regret, no trace of my father, and not a phone call or an explanation, I decided to give up on his attempts to mend our relationship. All I wanted to do was go shopping with him and he had let me down. One week later, he was pronounced dead.

As I continued to open the envelope, I remembered the day I anxiously waited for him and how I felt; so upset and let down. I regretted that feeling. If only I had known.  The contents of the envelope were anything but surprising to me; a check written for $100, meant for my prom dress, and two torn pieces of paper with my father’s chicken scratch scribbled across. One was written to my brother and one to me:

"I LOVE YOU COURTNEY SO VERY MUCH"

My heart sank deep into my stomach, or so it felt that way.
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Now, that piece of paper, worth almost nothing to anyone else, is framed on my wall next to my television. I look at it almost every day and some days I run my fingers across the dust that simple, black frame collects. I’ll probably never find the strength to throw it away, along with the other reminders of my painful past. Their meaning serves my comfort and helps me to cope with my grief.

Just like the crumpled note, these withered flowers sitting on my desk have a special meaning. However, they don’t match the ambiance of my room and they are no longer beautiful. But I’m going to hold on to them for just a little bit longer. My heart hasn’t healed yet and their presence still eases the pain.

Regardless of how difficult it is to look at these “things” and remember the feelings I work regularly to conceal, I keep them hidden in plain sight. They are there for me when I need them and until then, these meaningful treasures sit there, and collect dust.