Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Bearing Witness

One of this evening's projects was digging through the upper shelves of the closets, full of mysterious boxes that I've never even known the provenance of. Some of the findings were as expected, items for the giveaway: random costume jewelry, some cheap furs, a rather too frilly bathrobe, and a variety of purses. (Including the spare Coach bag that she bought and never opened, just in case Coach stopped making tasteful purses.)

And then the more personal items began to appear:
  • A box of more personal jewelry from Jane, only a few items of which I can guess the significance of.

  • Her grandmother's Eastern Star effects: bible, jewelry, ritual book and gavel.

  • Jane's baby albums, and various other boxes of items from her childhood.

  • Her parents' marriage ceremony and certificate.

  • Her grandfather's personal diary, started in 1913.

  • A box of her mother's correspondence during WWII, clearly to The Other Man -- and one of her father's early photos, presumably from his first marriage.
And I find myself strangely split, between feeling like a peeping tom into these people who I barely know -- and feeling like I've been handed a sacred duty to bear witness to their lives. Jane was an only child, and her parents were never that close to their families, at least in Jane's lifetime. In many of these cases, I *am* the remaining family.

The griefquake is mild, but the sense of responsibility is strange and a bit daunting. Jane and I knew each other so well, and yet I only really know our lives together. There is so much history, so many people standing behind her who I never knew. At some point, these boxes must be properly and respectfully pulled out, and those lives explored...
Tags: jane
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