There are things you cannot reach. But you can reach out to them...the wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God. And it can keep you busy as anything else; and happier. I look; morning to night I am never done with looking. Looking; I mean not just standing around, but standing around with your arms open.
- Mary Oliver
The previous chapter

The previous chapter

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Dear First Marriage,

The last inanimate remnants of you were delivered to me yesterday, by our first born. Six huge boxes, now stacked in piles that are creating a huge barrier to my art room. I waited until today to peek inside. At the very top of the first box were three photo albums of us, one from before the kids. We look so innocent, young and joyful. In one photo, I am pregnant, Nicolas’ arm tenderly draped around my shoulders. In others, I am farming, next to the first dogs, Ricco and Sadie, who have been gone for 15 years. The next album I opened held the first memories of our first boy. There he was, in my sister’s arms, her face all scrunched up with intense love as she kissed him. We were at our farmer’s market. I closed the album. Damn. I was doing just fine without these reminders.

What can I do with all of this stuff? All of the journals, and the loose photos, and the many books that we read throughout those twenty years. I am overwhelmed by the potency of what comes up. I can smell my home baked bread and the freshly picked herbs. I can see Nicolas’ face handing me the first bunch of asparagus of the season, remember that it felt like he was handing me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers. I can see the colors that graced your walls - the red-orange in the kitchen and the yellows and greens. So different than the neutral shades that I have embraced for this new chapter.

It is going to take hours to go through all of this stuff. Fortunately, I have to get it done before that same son returns in a week to bring the empty boxes back to the farm. Without this deadline, I would just stick them all in the crawl space downstairs and they would wait for my skin to grow a bit thicker in the coming years.

I am glad that I will have to sort through you, to take stock of some of the better details. There really were many. It has been easy to lose sight of the good in my immersion in a new chapter, as I start a beautiful new marriage. It has been easier to only focus on what was hard.

I am a bit sad that Nicolas was ready to hand over all of the stuff. He and, maybe more so, his girl friend, are getting you out of their space. I respect that. But without any of this stuff, will he remember you? Should he?

I will keep all of the photo albums in a special, closed off place in the turquoise chest in my bedroom. They will be there for my children. As for the rest, I will probably spend way too much time going through old mementos and notebooks and theater journals from when I was a director. No doubt, a few tears will be shed. I will sell or give away most of the books.

I will stack up the empty containers on the porch and with this gesture, I will even more fully commit to letting you go.

Just wanted to let you know that I loved you, in many moments (truly, in most moments) until I did not.

Thank you for helping me to become the person I am today,

Rest in peace,

Madeline

Putting on the unfinished knitted sock

Putting on the unfinished knitted sock

Living with the rat

Living with the rat