BY Kim Brandt
PUBLISHED May 31, 2018
After 28 years of living in our home, my husband and I are moving this summer. Although our new digs are not too far away, I see the move as an opportunity to critically review the abundant contents of our attic and closets. We have raised two sons and our house contains many remnants of their school years. We are also the family custodians of numerous dusty boxes containing ancestral pictures and mementos. I started on my minimalist quest a couple of months ago, and the paper shredder is now a fixture in the dining room. On collection days, my overflowing recycling bin is a testament to my progress.
This summer also marks the 5th anniversary since my last cancer surgery, and it has been nearly nine years from the first time I heard, "You have cancer". Nine years of medical notes and records have filled a file drawer; a long paper trail of my rectal cancer battle. I wanted to purge these files, but as every cancer survivor knows, there are many heavy memories and emotions entwined in there too.
So, on a day when I felt ready and with the "Let it Go" lyrics streaming through my mind, I opened the first file. As expected, along with the paper many memories and the associated feelings came floating out. I found my surgeon's sketch of what he needed to do to save my life. Scratches really, but they told the story of what was to come. As I stared at the picture, I clearly remembered my fear and anxiety at that appointment. But here I am nine years later, cancer free and oh so very grateful for him and the many other kind hearts and hands that touched and assisted me along my journey. My surgical scars have faded, but the memories of those who helped me remain forever vibrant.
As to the stack of files, it was time for me to let it go. I pared it down to only the most critical information, such as the surgery and pathology reports, which I then digitized. The result is an easily accessible digital file which is easy to search. It was quite an endeavor to wade through the paper and the associated feelings, but I also found it to be cathartic, especially the final step of shredding.
Soon I will begin packing only those things I need for moving on. It is time.