In my purse I carry a post card that my husband sent to one of his oldest friends many years ago when we were on one of our annual family vacations at Bethany Beach. He wrote some silly note about the beach, the kind of message that someone writes when they know everyone at the post office will read it before it reaches the people it is addressed to.
The friend's wife gave the postcard back to me after my husbad died and for some reason, just having that post card in my purse makes me feel connected to him. Or maybe it serves more as a touchstone, allowing me to remember a wonderful memory. If I am stuck on the Metro or have to wait in line somewhere and I have forgotten to bring a book or a newspaper to read, sometimes I will briefly pull out the post card to read it and look at his handwriting. It makes me smile. It doesn't make me sad. I think it's because the message he wrote reflected his wry sense of humor and his outlook on life. It's just so him.
I have questioned whether it is a healthy thing for me to carry this postcard around. Am I being weird by looking at it from time to time? Is it obsessive? I don't think it is, but I'm not sure. It doesn't feel weird. I think it would be dysfunctional if I denied to myself that he was dead and read the postcard several times a day, every day without fail. But I don't read it every day and sometimes I honestly forget it's in my purse because there's so much other stuff in there too. The memory of my husband and those wonderful times at the beach are just that, memories, and they don't hold me back from living my life and going forward.
An article I read recently refers to momentos such as my postcard as "links" or "likages" to our loved ones. These links can be small everyday items that the person used or it can also be a piece of jewelry that the person once wore that you now choose to wear.
I think the idea of keeping or wearing items that remind you of your loved one can be healing and sometimes help you move through your pain and back into your daily life. In trying to find new opportunities, you can gain inner strength and recover from your loss. Every day I feel that I am rebuilding a new life because I need to -- for myself and for my son. I look at the postcard as a positive reminder of the time we had together; not a maudlin reminder of a loved one who is no longer with me.
What do you think of keeping a loved one's momentos? What has been your experience?