In 2010 32,999 people died in motor vehicle accidents. My mother was one of them. Facts have this nifty tendency to take a tragedy, and personalize even more. You learn how important the number one is when it can easily be lost in the story of thousands. Out of all the mothers in the world, out of all the late 1990 BMWs, out of all the highways that ribbon across the world, there was MY mother, and her car accident. There was my family’s grief floating in an air of disbelief that still lingers to this day.
The thing about objects is that they move through stages of life like we do—like my mother did. A gift can go from junk to relic through the span of a year, through multiple lifetimes, and even across families. Things exchange hands, make their way through landfills, trash bins, abandoned moldy basements and into stories of legendary love. That grandmother’s engagement ring or that old ratty teddy bear are all just things among millions of consumable things. Yet, like the unrelenting mist of a foggy night, some of them stick to us forever.
When someone you love dies, the need to collect becomes obsessive. Grief exacerbates importance. My family is still living in Florida, for the most part, holed up with a myriad of things that belonged to my mother. She loved to shop. There are knickknacks, like a collection of miniature pigs dressed in every profession imaginable that my siblings just don’t have the heart to dig up or fight over, and furniture we can’t bare to part with. What does a family need with two living room sets? Individually, we stick closest to the gifts that we were personally given, or the little ones that we can steal and cement to ourselves.
Years ago, I must have been about 15 years old, my mother gifted me a pair of Spongebob Squarepants pajama bottoms. I don’t know what possessed her to do such a thing, as I find the show very annoying, but I begrudgingly welcomed them as part of my laissez-faire wardrobe. I was one of those teenage girls that looked at clothes as a necessary evil. I don’t even know why I took them with me to college, but they clung to me in the way that you cling to the comfortable ease of running into an old friend, ready to share secrets.
I moved to Brooklyn, those pajama pants were with me. I graduated college with them in my closet. I saw my mother for the last time in a haze of knee buckling pain. I returned to college to find the pajamas on the floor of my room. As I write this post, they are waiting to be washed, a little paler for the hundredth time. I know that a distance is being added between me and my mother every year I live without her, but there is nothing like the brush of some of the relics she left behind, like those old pajama pants, to remind me that time doesn’t exist.
I invite you to submit your favorite Object for a possible post in this series by emailing Starre (at) eco-chick (dot) com.
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