We accumulate a lot of stuff womb to tomb. We can’t take it with us, of course. So this is where it ends up: on the curb.
And then people go through it….curious neighbors, bargain hunters, and then the trash pickup guys. Maybe they take measure of our lives by looking through our stuff. I hope not.
We’re more than our stuff.
These things in the picture were valuable to my friend Janice, who lived around the corner and lived alone….in the house. She didn’t live alone in life…she lived vibrantly through our church. She was a superb storyteller from the mountains of east Tennessee. She was a singer, too, in the church choir.
Janice died May 23 of sepsis. It took a while for the heirs, who are good people, to get her estate settled. They took away some cherished things from Janice’s life, which is a relief to me.
Janice’s taste in music was there for all to see on the curb. There were old cassette tapes in a bag and a box of CDs. What kind of music? I didn’t pry. I didn’t look too close. I didn’t want to be nosey, even though she died six weeks ago. There were books, and books, and books. There were some tattered black leather bags with papers and 8 ½ by 11 files spilling out of them.
There was a sleeper sofa and a bookcase. The compactor in the trash truck made quick work of both of them. Mike, the trash man, whom I have known for 25 years, just shakes his head. “This is what we do,” he said, sorry that people’s stuff gets crushed by the compactor. You have to be a president and have a library before your stuff is saved.
The worst is yet to come. In my neighborhood, maybe in yours, too, the bulldozers will come and knock down Janice’s modest house, which is about 70 years old. A $1 million house will go up. The lot, I’m sure, sold for $375,000 to $400,000.
This much I know. The pile of things getting thrown in the trash truck is not all Janice left behind. Not by a long shot.
Janice set a precedent at church for how stories are told to children. She also set a standard for speaking out against gun violence. My friend Janice did a lot of good for her community and this stuff on the curb is little justice to how much she left behind.
Her stuff on the curb doesn’t begin to tell her story so I didn’t spend a lot of time looking through it. Our stuff is not all there is to her, or to you, or to me.