Some 10 years ago, when a good friend up north lost her husband, I was astounded to learn that she moved house within one month of his death.
I didn’t know what to say and decided to say nothing but duly visited her at her new home.
She kept only a few photos of him, she said and they are all there on the sideboard. His clothes and books, she’d given away. Ditto his exercise machines.
For a life together that’s lasted some 20 years, courtship and marriage included, my friend appeared to have all but scrubbed out those two decades.
And, no in case you who are reading this jump to the conclusion that it was a bad relationship she was wanting out from– that wasn’t the case.
She nursed him faithfully through his short but excruciating illness. She was devastated all the time he was ill. She was inconsolable at his going, so early.
So why did she do what she did?
She never explained but today as I emptied another filing cabinet to comb through more papers and files in my search for my O-level certificate (about which I had written here), I suddenly figured out why my friend did what she did.
It’s so heartbreaking to go over one’s yesteryears and be reminded of things one did or didn’t do; paths taken or avoided; people who have come into one’s life for just a season; old holidays, unforgettable or best forgotten; all concrete in paper, text and photos; old newspaper cuttings flimsy with age etc
I can imagine how much worse it would be to go over one’s past life with a significant other. Perhaps that’s why it’s less painful to set a bonfire under the paper trail to one’s past than stumble upon it while looking for a tiny piece that’s needed for tomorrow’s living.
Just hope that I didn’t put a match to my school and university certs though, for if I had done so but not remember, then my current search would be a futile exercise!