How do we survive grief? A major component is embracing new things. New routines. New relationships. But we stubbornly resist. We want things the way they’ve always been.
Must we discard the old to make way for the new?
Sometimes perhaps, but not always. Healing is at its best in the memories that contain both the old and new. And so we come to my father’s desk lamp.
The lamp reminds me of the aliens in the 1953 movie, War of the Worlds. Perched on two slender posts, the convex head beams light below – like an alien head.
I gave Dad the lamp. Probably for a birthday, or Father’s Day. All silvery and modern with a halogen bulb, it was so unlike the florescent desk lamp he had when I was a kid.
He died within a few years of my giving it to him. In the years since both my parents have been gone, I allowed the lamp to sit on his chest of drawers, unused. Just sitting there, like he could come back and use it. Like he was just around the corner. I liked the sense of security it evoked.
But the self-imposed deadline to clean out my parents’ home is nearing. My husband recently expressed a desire for a lamp to read by. I offered him Dad’s lamp. He accepted.
I dusted it, brought the lamp home and set it on the dining table Richard uses for a desk. That night, or the night thereafter, I walked by. I had to grab my phone for a photo.
I loved seeing something of Dad’s being useful to my husband, in our home. It was like two worlds coming together, the past and the present. The grief and the joy. The old and the new.
I don’t have to have a strangle hold on the past. Nor must I discard it as useless to my present. There’s a future ahead with room for all of it, the old and the new together in one wonderful place of healing.
How have you repurposed your past? What are useful ways to bring objects that belonged to your loved one into your present circumstances?
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