Peace can be found in the most unexpected places. Last weekend, my husband and I drove 9 hours and 500+ hours to sort through my mother’s apartment and bring her belongings back home. The life of a hoarder can be a very lonely and heart-breaking one and we found evidence of that:
- 1000s of rolled cigarettes, 3 bags of loose tobacco and a tote bag full of cartons of Swisher cigars
- 6 bottles of unopened laundry soap
- 15 unopened sticks of deodorant
- 3 rubbermaid totes full of shoes
- 4 unopened cans of coffee
- 100s of unused medical supplies and bottles of unopened prescription medications
- papers and magazines piled everywhere so that the floor, surfaces, etc had to be cleared before we could work.
Still, in the midst of all of this misery were things that brought peace: Photos of me and my brothers, jewelry that contained all of our birthstones, letters that we had written, a ring that read “Until we meet again” on the outside and had all of we kids’ names engraved on the inside. It was an odd sense of being pampered upon her death in a fashion that never occurred during her life. Evidence existed that we mattered even if the outward signs were few and far between.
There was peace and compassion for a woman who faced significant challenges in the best way she knew how, despite the collateral damage exacted. Compassion for a woman born with fetal alcohol syndrome, mild developmental disabilities, who was abused as a child and grew into abusive relationships, who lost a 6 year old and her surviving son and abandoned her 8 month old daughter, who had COPD, diabetes, brain, lung, liver, bone and pancreatic cancer.
Peace was also found in the stillness of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. With over 1 million acres of woodland, hiking through the forest was a welcome respite from the misery, heartbreak and sheer mess that was sorting piece by piece through the remnants of my mother’s life. A curious deer, singing birds, lush greens and thick earth floor welcomed my troubled mind and soul to release and release I did.
Peace by piece.