“Seize the day, then let it go.” -Marty Rubin
One by one, cars creep past. Passengers point and gawk, muttering to each other about the housewares and furniture strewn across the lawn. Some stop, others continue on their way. Neighbors stroll over, sharing a handshake and a favorite memory. It’s a bittersweet goodbye.
Estate Sale. Everything must go.
The lake cottage, owned since 1939, passed through generations of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Closure of that kind of history, even when necessary, is hard.
My husband’s family cottage sits across the grass parkway. The families have been summertime neighbors some sixty plus years. Roots grow deeply here. Through that time, weddings, funerals, triumphs, and trials have been shared. Tangled histories stick to us like the humidity of a steamy August morning.
As a kid, I practically lived at this cottage, hanging out with friends and raiding the freezer of its perpetual supply of popsicles. During my mother’s final summer, their family matriarch folded me into her brood of ten without hesitation. I had a free pass for sleepovers and was expected to help with chores. I met my future husband—just “the neighbor kid” back then—on their porch that summer.
But now, despite the years, this family needs to close the door and wave farewell. It is time. Everything must go.
I turn away as the massive dining table—host to endless family meals, cups of coffee, and rowdy late night card games—moves into the bed of a stranger’s truck. Tears well. A painful lump grows in my throat. I pray its chairs feel the wet bottoms of children fresh from a swim and hear their mother’s scolding to get a towel. I hope its expansive tabletop organizes games and puzzles on rainy days. I dream of it surrounded by another laughing family for mid-July sweet corn-hotdog-watermelon meals.
But today, everything must go.
Who doesn’t yearn for things they love to remain the same? To freeze time? Yet despite my rose-colored wishes to hold fast, my heart knows—as Heraclitus said over a thousand years ago—the only thing constant is change. Even when it feels unwelcome. Or sad.
Whenever I think my map of life says, “You Are Here,” I discover the arrow has moved yet again.
Two months ago I attended three funeral services within 6 weeks. The first, for a friend’s 27 year old daughter. The second, for my beloved 54 year old brother in law. And the third, for a 90 year old great grandmother. How random our life spans! How unpredictable the outcomes! Each time I believe something is permanent, I’m schooled once again.
This beckons me to squeeze the best out of each moment. To worry less and love more. To do what I can and step aside when I can’t. Interesting, isn’t it, that none of those require holding tightly? Instead, they invite letting go.
What do you hold tightly? How would they look if they needed letting go?
The white, stucco house sits empty this week. I envision it waiting expectantly for a new family to unpack their bags. Those new faces might seem alien at first. But given time and roots, who knows what may bloom?