The Huffington Post

It Takes Courage To Let Go

It takes courage to let go.

For me, it took sixteen years before I was ready to part with the objects that were a reminder of my Mom’s illness. They were displayed on a shelf in my den. All three of them. Clay sculptures made by my Mom as she fought for her life.

 It had been a family decision to purchase a supply of clay and pottery tools as a way to distract my Mom who was fighting stage 4 Melanoma. She needed something to do during the day that would take her mind off of her treatment plan and poor prognosis. She loved art, enjoyed making things with her hands and the clay seemed to be the solution. Truth be told, we needed to feel like we were doing something, anything, and shopping and buying art supplies made us think we were being useful.

 If you’ve watched someone you love fight a losing battle, you know how helpless it can make you feel.

 I remember how excited she was when we came home from the art store and set up her art room with all of the new supplies. She couldn’t wait to start creating and designing. She wanted to make something for each of the members of our immediate family. My Brother, Dad and I each received a piece from her. Each thought out and made with love by our beloved Mother and Wife as she fought for her life.

 I was pregnant with my first child at the time, and my sculpture came in the form of a mother holding her baby. My brother’s was a mom holding her child and my dad’s was a family of four, arms around one another, engulfed in a hug.

Since she didn’t have a kiln or a way to glaze the designs, they were taken by a friend and returned after being “cooked.”

They were raw and ragged, earthy and fragile. A bit like my family as we held on to one another during a very difficult time in our lives.

My Mom passed away a short time after the pieces were completed and somehow the three objects ended up at my house.

I don’t know how this came to be or why all three ended up in my home. What I do know, is that it’s been over sixteen years since she passed away and these sculptures have lived on a shelf in my den for almost all of these years.

I see them several times each day when I walk through my family room on the way to my kitchen.

They don’t bring my any form of happiness or peace. They don’t remind me of the vibrant woman I loved or the joy her life brought to those who knew her.

Instead, they bring me down.

Every time I pass the shelf I recall one of the saddest moments of my life. I’ve been reminded of this, daily, for sixteen years. That’s a lot of time.

I have many personal belongings that were my mom’s and I cherish and treasure these keepsakes.

These objects felt different. They felt like they were sacred and couldn’t be moved. I’ve been reading a lot lately about the significance of having things around you that don’t bring you joy. Items that drown your happiness and zap you of positive energy.

The three objects sitting on a shelf in my den immediately came to mind.

I’ve wanted them out of my house for a long time but guilt got the best of me. What kind of person would give up something made for them with such love and care? What daughter would do such a thing?

Recently, I felt ready to get rid of them and move on. Maybe it was the awareness I obtained through my reading that helped me see clearly the impact these three sculptures had on me? I like to think I’ve gotten braver with age.

Life experiences can do that to you. You either muster up the courage to get through hard times or you fall flat on your face.

I took a long walk alone last week and contemplated the three clay sculptures. It was a Sunday evening and the trash in my neighborhood is picked up on Monday. I had finally decided it was time. I knew I needed to remove the objects from my house, my life, my daily thoughts.

Monday morning came and without telling anyone in my family, I took each statue to the trash can. While I could have placed them in a box and put them on a shelf somewhere deep in a closet, I didn’t see the point. Plus, they’d still be in my house. I could have taken them to Goodwill or given them to a friend but I needed them gone.

Forever.

As I stood over the trash can, I looked at each piece individually. I thought about my Mom and I silently explained to her why I was doing what I was doing. Then I pitched them into the garbage, one at a time, and watched them crumble into a thousand pieces.

I didn’t cry. I didn’t feel sad.

I felt relief. I felt free. I felt light.

I quickly took the trash to the outside can and went on with my day.

There weren’t any tears.

I was ready to stop thinking about the past and fully accept what had happened. And while a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about my Mom, getting rid of the statues opened up space to just focus on the happy moments. The experiences I know she would want me to remember.

While I can’t change what happened, and I know I’ll never forget, I don’t have to think about it each time I walk through my den.

I don’t feel guilty. I don’t feel regret. I don’t feel sadness.

Instead, I know my Mom is smiling down on me and wrapping me in her love.

If you’re holding on to something given to you by someone who has passed away, and the item is weighing you down, I get it.

I encourage you to consider getting rid of the object and to not feel guilty about it. Don’t hold on to something that isn’t bringing you joy or is causing you unhappiness. Keep the items that remind you of the wonderful relationship you had with the person you love.

As for the rest, get rid of it. Move on. Let it go.

I wish I had gotten rid of the clay pieces many years ago, but for whatever reason, I wasn’t ready. I also know that keeping them didn’t do me any good.

If you’re holding on to something, like I was, I hope you find a way to make peace with it and let it go.

Find meaning each day,

Dara