I’m wearing a belt of mom’s that I saved, but have never tried on. It’s an American Airlines one, thin and black, and the buckle is an oval with a silver eagle on the front, just the kind that hooks into a hole in the belt. The first time I wrap it around me, I see right away which holes are worn and stretched and which are not. Her waist fit my waist. Or really, mine fits hers.
It’s such a contradiction to me. We people leave such traces behind. The space between my hands fitting that belt, and her hands twenty years past fitting that belt, is just a heartbeat apart. A home packed, filled wall to wall and page to page with newspaper trimmings and shreds of loopy handwriting. So many objects treasured and tucked away by so many pairs of hands before us, and clutched tight to our chests for a little longer. Shoes broken in and relaxed to fit a particular pair of feet. A scarf still smelling faintly of someone’s perfume. A recipe printed in a church cookbook with penciled notes and adjustments from experiments gone awry somehow. Our markings are everywhere, whether or not we are mindful of who will read and touch and smell them when we’re gone. Sometimes it’s the things we take such care to preserve, and other times it’s the note from the doctor jotted down by the phone, just as easily thrown away as enshrined by someone else.
It’s a wave of comfort, followed closely by a wave of grief for the gift that’s left for me to hold on to, while knowing how insufficient it is to replace the person. It’s a treasure in the same moment that is also a weak reflection and a fragment.
How can a thing be so important, so so important, and a breath later, just another thing?