Last week I spent many late-night hours sorting through outgrown baby clothes and paraphernalia to sell at a local children's resale event. Each item of clothing was sorted and hung (hangers facing left). Each printed price tag was safety-pinned in the upper right corner (pins inserted right to left, fingers pricked on multiple occasions).
The bins of baby girl clothing that I had packed and repacked these last few years as my daughters have grown were emptied for the final time. A tottering stack was piled on the bed, ready to leave our house for good.
Although I wrote this post a month ago, I found my heart sink in my chest as I drove to drop off my items. When I arrived, smarter women than I were transporting their items easily in laundry baskets or cleverly wheeling them on strollers. I carried brimming arm fulls, hugging them close to my chest. With each trip back to the car I reconsidered entering the sale in the first place.
Especially when I saw a volunteer take a stack of my clothes and hang them up on the racks.
Suddenly, this little blue dress -- the blue dress that a dear friend of mine whom I've known since nursery school gave to my firstborn daughter, the blue dress that she wore when she met Joel's grandfather and fell asleep in the crook of his arm -- was on a sales rack.
The yellow outfit that my second daughter wore in her surrender sleep,
and the lavender onesie that my littlest daughter wore as she lay on her tummy, her bottom tipped upward toward the sky, were now dangling on cheap plastic hangers.
As my eyes locked onto that sale rack, I -- a woman who organizes with abandon, a woman who detests clutter, a woman who constantly sorts and repurposes unnecessary things, a woman who wants to minimize, minimize, minimize -- suddenly understood hoarders.
Hoarders can't separate the memories from the objects. To keep the memories, they hold onto the objects.
For one moment, I thought I'd grab the items off the rack and bring them back home, but I left the rack and walked away. And blink, just like that, my children's baby clothes were gone.
In a week or so, they'll be replaced with a check indicating my sale tallies. Some other mother will dress her little baby girl in the clothes, creating an entirely new set of memories, which I pray are just as wonderful as mine have been.
But this one piece,
this newborn pink sleeper that already seems so small, will be tucked away in one of my drawers.
I had to keep just one thing.