Why my stuff isn’t just things 


Friday Daughter and I went out shopping after I picked her up from school. Husband was working late and so we made an evening of it, hitting a bookstore for a while and even having some dinner at a pizzeria before heading home. We knew we would be feeding the beasts a little bit late, but life happens and we didn’t really think it would be a problem. Unfortunately, Dog 2, or Beast the Youngest, was rather perturbed by the hours alone and took it out on what is a prized possession. Well, what was a prized possession.

Almost sixteen years ago when husband and I became Husband and I, the event was witnessed by many of those we love. Some even brought gifts, and we treasure them. This was one- a lovely copy of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, cloth bound and with a hand written inscription. Simple, but meaningful on many levels, this book was one of the many examples of my heart that I have on shelves and in crevices in my home. I had been reading to Daughter from the book the night before because she has recently become enamored with the original and gruesome versions of classic fairy tales. We were almost finished with The Little Mermaid and I left it on the end table so that we could pick up where we left off. Walking upstairs when we arrived home, rushing, panting, sirrounded by hugely animals, I was taken aback by the remnants of the book in my living room. The spine was ripped apart and the back cover was shredded beyond recognition. It had been destroyed, and Beast the Younger took one look at my face and fled. Please understand that I have never struck this dog. I don’t scream at her or throw things at her. I do not hurt my animals. Ever. Regardless, she cowered and hid like I would wollop her hide. Why would she? She knew she destroyed something special.

I didn’t cry, though I came close, I just sat looking at scraps of my precious book in my hands. I was heartbroken.  This book wasn’t just a thing. It was a representation of joy. There was laughter in the pages, memories of my graduate studies, my friend for life who I met then, and the sanity she helped me keep on my wedding day. When I touched the Crimson cloth of the cover I could feel her arm in mine as we walked through a foggy morning. I was warned by the tea we shared and my heart was full because she is the first person who ever called me beautiful and I believed. This book wasn’t just a thing.

Our homes and lives are full of stuff that aren’t just things but are vessels containing memories. I’ve become afraid of losing these things for good lately because of what I see happening with my mother, and I guess that’s why I got so upset about the book being destroyed. So now I write things down and I share them with you. Maybe someday I will have it as an artifact to share with me, too.

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