These things are not easy--sorting a closet full of memories.
Some people simply do it in a day.
Some people never do it.
There is no right way.
There is no easy way.
I had tried to start on Christina's closet at our house a few times. It was too much. I did not know what was important. If it wasn't important today, would it be important in ten years? How do you know?
I shared some of these thoughts with Christina's good friend, Linsey. She offered to help me over Christmas vacation. And then Mandy, Christina's other childhood friend, joined us. I knew that Mandy and Linsey would know the meaning and circumstances of so much of this stuff.
Christina was a saver. It didn't take us long for us to throw away old papers from chemistry and math.
Old cassette tapes--mostly gone.
Mask from radiation treatment--gone!
Textbooks from college--thrift store.
But there were some questionable things.
Do you save all the high school and college annuals?
How about report cards?
How many of these quilts and blankets do we save?
Other things were treasures. The college letters from her brother. The Mother's Day Card she made me when she was six. (Why in the world was it in her closet instead of mine?) The list of character qualities she was looking for in a husband! Her art work through the years. Stories she wrote. Journals and more journals.
But there was one paper that stopped us in our tracks. We sat and read it aloud. We found a paper she wrote for a 9th grade English class. The title was,
"If I Were Going to Die, Would I Want to Know It?"
It was hand written. She received a "B". I suppose the grammar wasn't great. The teacher (I don't remember who it was) said her conclusion was "OK". I smiled.
Here are a few excerpts.
"If I were going to die, I would definitely want to know it...
A lot of people say they wouldn't want to know if they were going to die because it would make them depressed and not enjoy the last part of their life. I disagree. I think people can have many things they would want to resolve or finish. They maybe would do all of the things they've always wanted to do, because they want to get as much fun in as possible.
How would you like it if you were minutes from dying and you and your brother weren't speaking because of a fight you had? But it's too late to talk to him because he left town that night. If only someone had told you that you were going to die, you could have worked it out and died in peace, but now it's too late.
If someone wanted to see a certain movie or go to one last Mariners game, they could do those things, because they knew they didn't have much time left. They could enjoy life to the fullest.
A person could also do some risky things that they've always kind of wanted to do, like bungee jumping or sky diving...it's not such a big risk.
You can see now why I'd want to be told that I was dying. I wouldn't have to miss out on all of the stuff I've always wanted to do. I could resolve my arguments with family or friends, and most of all just be prepared for my death. Sure, I might go through some depressing moods, but I would say it's definitely worth it."
I would love to talk to this teacher now. I loved Christina's conclusion. I thought it was much better than "OK". For a 14 year old, I think it was pretty amazing. I am thankful that God gave her such wisdom at an early age and enabled her to walk it out so beautifully.
I think of the motorcycle she enjoyed for a short time between the first and second brain surgeries. No time to waste. She loved motorcycles. She bought a FAST one. It's not such a big risk when your days are numbered. I remember when she told her oncologist about her new motorcycle and the nurse said, "Oh is that on your bucket list?" We were a little surprised at the question, but Christina took it in stride and said, "I've loved motorcycles since I was about 12, so why not?"
I think of Christina's care in keeping her relationships healthy. I remember her telling me about working to forgive someone who had hurt her in her last few weeks of life. She said she couldn't afford to have anything ugly in her heart.
She had such a desire to live life to the fullest--miss no minutes. She loved the last 5 1/2 years of her life. She was thankful for every day. Even the hard ones. She fought for joy. She left us so much evidence of her deep relationship with God. She worked out so many difficulties on the pages of her journals. Such deep struggle and most of the time ending with a thankful heart. Oh, I love that example.
Thanks to Linsey and Mandy, Christina's closet is sorted. Several boxes stacked neatly holding things that we think Isaiah might enjoy someday. We are wealthy in memories, and Christina has left us so many treasures.