Letting go is hard. When my mom was a young teenager, her family left Cuba in disgrace. In 1966, the Revolution was over, Fidel Castro was in power, and many of the changes that would prove him a ruthless dictator were already taking place. My grandparents were both teachers–intellectuals were reviled in communist Cuba because they were considered among the most outspoken against the new regime. Before she left, my mom saw signs posted around the campus where her father taught, declaring him a traitor. The government seized their house, and they were only able to bring two suitcases among the five of them. I’ve never seen a picture of my mom as baby for this reason. On the airplane, she had to surrender her Cuban passport for refugee admissions to the United States. To this day, she has never again set foot in Cuba.
The Memories Of Things
What I’m going through now is not half as drastic as what my mom went through. I am not a refugee. My family is not being derided by the government. I have more choices than she did, and I’m less estranged from my past than she was–not to mention, I’m an adult, technically speaking.
But I’m still letting go of the life and home in which I’ve been living for the past several years, along with everything I could not fit into two suitcases and a purse. Things are just that: things, but letting go is still hard. We store our memories and emotions in objects. It’s amazing how touching or smelling or seeing something that was present during a past event can bring it rising back up to the surface, chock-full of details we’d seemingly forgotten. Of course, lose a thing and you still have the memory of it, and all the memories attached to it…but those memories are also more likely to molt into oblivion without that tether. All but the most important of them.
Letting go, like most events in life, has its merits and its drawbacks. A lot of my past is painful and messy. Letting go of some of those tethers may help me escape the grip of those histories. But I couldn’t fit everything I’d wanted to keep, and I forgot some things I may have been able to fit but didn’t think of in the short time I had to pack up. My daughter has a box of unopened birthday presents that I’m hoping my brother-in-law and mom will send; they agreed to send them, but my mom is being a pain. For a person who has been through so much, and has experienced so much loss, she has a massive lack of empathy. She resents me, and adds difficulty and drama where there is a need for compassion and ease.
Where I Am Right Now
My husband is still in the hospital. He might be there for another 90 days; we’re still waiting to hear. Most of my things are still in my apartment. I don’t know what will happen if I abandon them. I will probably find out, as it’s unlikely I will be able to do anything else. I wish I could go back for a few things, or have them sent over, and that I had a way to get the rest removed before surrendering the place. Most of all, I wish the people closest to me didn’t always treat me like a burden.
Letting go of everything I own is incredibly difficult. My whole life has been razed, and reduced to a few items of clothing and a laptop. Letting go of control is even more difficult. I don’t get a say in what’s happening. I wasn’t prepared for my husband to become a dependent. Or to be forced to surrender my home and all of my belongings. I’m lucky to have somewhere safe and clean to stay–luckier still to have people who can help me with my daughters.
Right now, I’m living in the moment by necessity. The past is a dark, seething tide of pain and disappointment. The future is an anxious, ambiguous blank space. But I can’t think about all that. Instead, I have to sit, and keep on trying–even though it may all be taken from me once again.
You Can Help
I’m letting go of everything–but I’m hoping to mitigate some of this loss and it’s effects. My husband and I are hosting a fundraiser for exactly that purpose. Right now, we have a good large chunk of what we need raised! If we can raise the last few hundred, we might actually be able to walk away from this in a way that feels okay. I hope you will take a look at the fundraiser. Please consider making a donation of any size if you’re able, and if you’re not, please share it among your friends. You can click here to view it.
I don’t know if I’m walking into something better or worse than before. All I know is how much I’ve lost, and how much I value what I still have with me.