I love a good garage sale. I don't go out looking for them nearly enough but love the idea of finding something needed at a good price. This week, I am learning something... I needed to respect those folks who are selling their things a lot more than I have. Because it can be hard. To let go.
At least that's how it is for me.
On Friday, I am joining my best friend's sale and have spent the better part of a week pulling out old things to offer. We have a lot of old things because I am just not very good at this at all. For me, it almost feels like the memories are tied into the fabric of the tiny, little clothes my sweet little ones wore. Running my hand across the fuzzy jammies, eyelet laced dresses and small sweater vests brings back a rush of scenes of mommy-hood that makes me catch my breath.
The first box we opened was topped with matching blue jammies, size 2t and 12 months. Noah and Benjamin wore these long ago and I immediately remembered watching them walk down a long hall, hand in hand, with my best friend's dad. Tears welled in my eyes as I reached for the footie pjs and I very nearly gave up on the idea of the garage sale altogether. If I keep the clothes, I keep the memories... Right? Hmmm....
I decided to keep going. For hours, Mark and I pulled out little clothes from boxes stored long ago. We smiled secret smiles at each other and remembered life with four little ones... special outings, favorite shirts, outfits over-worn and some still with tags. It was gut-wrenching and happy and nostalgic and... hard.
I came across a Blues Clues shirt then... a size 3t. Both of the older boys wore it and loved it so much. Blues Clues was one of the first shows they ever got to watch... with Steve, of course. Not Joe. Mark got a little twinkle in his eye then... an idea coming to play.
"Hey Benjamin, wanna make your momma cry?" he said, smiling.
Benjamin looked curious.
Mark continued, "Put this shirt on!" and then threw the shirt toward my second-born.
Benjamin loves a challenge and without even taking off the shirt he was currently wearing, started to pour his skinny 11 year old self into the Blue's Clues shirt. With it finally on, he smiled in my direction... white shirt over grey... Blue being tugged across his rib cage and the bottom of the shirt settling just inches below his armpits.
It's true. I almost cried. The visual reminder of how much he had grown was honestly too much. The goofy blue dog smiling simply as he sat on my boy's torso. The older look shining from Benjamin's eyes as the straight-forward, easy-to-understand puppy looked on. I couldn't take my eyes off him. I couldn't look away. How did we get to this place? How did my kids get so very old?
Mark was giggling and said out loud, "Be careful Benjamin, a picture of this is going to end up on Momma's blog!"
The realization that this really could happen hit Benjamin and I together. Quick as I could I glanced for a camera, my phone, anything to snap a shot! In Benjamin's horror, he began to fight the little shirt and suddenly realized he was trapped. Trapped in a tiny tee.
The sight was then so funny... and my hunt for a camera forgotten. Benjamin was beginning to be frenzied... afraid that this scene might be shared outside the family and he pulled and he pushed and he got red-in-the-face. And, I was laughing. Laughing at the ridiculousness of it all... laughing at his worry... laughing at the sight of a tween in a Nick Jr. shirt.
"Oh Buddy, I think you will graduate from college in that shirt!" I laughed.
Finally, he freed an arm. The shirt came over the top of his curly locks and he shook it off the other side. I picked it up and looked at it... touched the embroidered Blue and folded it up for sale.
A couple of weeks ago, we went as a family to watch Toy Story 3. I cried like a baby through the entire end and felt a wealth of rich emotions for the loss of Andy's boyhood, for the blessing bestowed on Bonnie, for the life well-lived by a box of beautiful toys. Ahh but that look on Bonnie's face... the wonder and excitement at the thrill of brand new toys motivates me today.
Because the memories are mine. And they are not stored up in that shirt. Or the riding toy. Or the excer-saucer or the high chair or the blocks... The memories are mine. And allowing all these things to bless the life of some little one I don't yet know is not a loss... it is a passing on of all that is good. It is offering of what we loved to someone who will love it, too.
I love a good garage sale. This week, it is my babies' things that will be offered up...a good deal for another family to find what we so loved... and take it home and love it, too. I can let it go... because the memories are mine to keep.
And they are sweet.
Blessings on your day.
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