I hoarded all the wrong things.

The stacks of bills sitting on my countertop never opened because we do online banking. A cruel reminder that money is owed.

The shoes that line my garage and my front closet and my bedroom. Who knows when red jelly shoes will come back in style?? I am prepared.

The clothes that drape so beautifully in my walk in. Taunting me with visions of smaller sizes and long ago trends.

I loathe to throw such things away. Their importance is in relation to my unsettledness in every day life. If I do not open, it can not matter. If I do not throw away, then time stands still. If I close my eyes and pretend then I can be exactly where I want to be.

What I should have saved instead was all those heartfelt Mother’s Day cards, Easter gifts, and birthday surprises.

“Mommy, look at the picture I made.” I must say that was the most challenging game I have ever played as an adult.

“Oh my, Ryan that is so colorful. You used so much green there”, I would cautiously praise. Never comfortable with my open ended bland statements, Ryan would raise one eyebrow and ask me to tell him what it was.

“Gosh, it’s like right on the tip of my tongue. Ry.. what is that thing that is green and like big and you know ….that thing….”.

“An Apatosaurus?

“ Yes ” I cried in relief.

“No that’s not it.”

It is never easy having a clever child.

Those pictures would hang on my fridge, proudly front and center. Time would pass and they became tattered and stained. New ones would take the place of the old. A circle of life. I meant to tuck them away. Why didn’t I treat them like beloved treasures, priceless and irreplaceable? After all, to me, they are reminiscent of a time when my children had complete confidence in their ability to represent their world.

I didn’t know. These trinkets and memorabilia didn’t seem that important. There would be more to follow. There always was. I thought that the kids would lose interest in them and their value would diminish over time.

I never imagined how much I would long for traces of Ryan.

What I realize now is that I should have hoarded memories.