Packing it In

We’re going on a week-long trip from Huntley to Hilton Head, South Carolina. This was supposed to be our last escape from a cold winter. But we just checked, and the weather has changed. I was packed and able to start on this blog, call my sister, exercise; things I could do with extra time. But instead, I am unpacking and repacking for cooler, rainier weather.

Anxiety creeps in. If the long-sleeved dress, what about shoes? If more jeans, what about the plan to take one less bag? What has to go? What stays? I want it all, and guaranteed climate on arrival so that I did it right.

This is what happens, I imagine, when we have time at the end of life. But we can’t take anything. So, all the worry is about what we leave behind. I can hear myself saying, “Are my business and financial records in order? Do my sons know my wishes about celebrating my life? Are there messes I should clean up? What will people see when I’m not here to hide it/them?”

It’s going to be the longest trip I’ve ever taken, and one with no bags at all. But is there baggage I need to address first? Knowing myself, I’d start with a list of people to call, accounts to cancel and membership groups to notify. I certainly don’t want my husband or sons to deal with extra “stuff.”

Then, I’d go through my computer, closets, drawers and shelves, looking at projects half done or never begun, clothes worn too much or not at all and happy memories of some life accomplishments. I’d find a way to sort, donate, toss and get perspective, realizing that there comes a time for all of us to go. My faith assures me that it will be a positive transition.

But if there’s one thing I want to recommit to doing, it’s writing about my life. I help others to start and finish, but my story is still in process, looking for a central point. Is it a tale of loss and survival on many different levels; in relationships, health and career? Is it one of creativity, finding ways to re-invent myself to start again? Or is it just love and passion for everything I set my mind to do?

Life’s led me to many places, people and purposes. Each one carved a memory and tweaked my perspective. It’s time to write the salient ones down and relate them to a single “point” so that looking at my closet will make more sense to whoever empties it. When it’s time to go, I won’t worry about my wardrobe. But writing a narrative will make it easier to leave behind.


Janette Dennis

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