Putting Away the Past…

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

As I take down Christmas at the lake, transferring Santa Clauses, reindeer, gnomes, sleighs, christmas trees, garlands, and ornaments onto the bed, I open my closet door, and decide my house is in need of cleaning.

It’s Inauguration Day, four years ago I watched it with my Mom, in the hospital where she was receiving a round of chemotherapy. It was an all day process that started at 5:00 am and ended late in the evening when our new president and the first lady were dancing at the Inaugural Ball. I was grateful for the distraction from her collapsed veins, plummeting heart rate, and the slow drip of poison intended to irradiate the cancer infiltrating her besieged body.

I remember thinking Trump wants to make America great again and all I wanted was to make my Mom well again. I wondered what the world would think of chemotherapy and Trump a hundred years from now? Well chemo certainly didn’t heal my Mom, she died 5 months later, and my sister and I went about maintaining the legacy of the family. I feel as if our nation has been doing much the same, fighting inefficacious leadership, political discord, and recently an infectious virus, all the while struggling to maintain the legacy of our great nation, and can I just say we’re exhausted.

The past is only a shadow with the present reality standing between the rays of light and the memory cast upon the ground. On a ‘Zero Shadow Day’ the shadow of a person or object disappears for a few minutes. The phenomenon, takes place halfway between sunrise and sunset and is experienced only in areas between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Oh my, that’s rich.

Today we inaugurate Joe Biden, the 46th president of the United States of America, ushering in the first female vice president, Kamala Harris, a surreal moment in time for many of us. We’re putting away the ornaments of the last four years, storing them in the closet of time, and can I just say, our house is in need of cleaning.

The truth is I have too much stuff, gathered over the years when I went through the snowman phase, the santa phase, and now the gnomes hold my interest, not unlike the political schizophrenia of our nation. I need to let the things go that are no longer serving me. This lack of mindfulness often makes us carry the unnecessary possessions, stale ideologies and rotten relationships along, which unnecessarily clutter our lives and consciousness, and stagnates our growth says Banani Ray. Amen, amen.

“When you can identify the behaviors that led to too much in your home, you can begin protecting the space between your things.” Mary Vraa.

What are the behaviors that have led us to our present reality? And how do we begin protecting our spaces?

As my dear friend Bonny McClain says “I have not really been able to articulate the feelings rising to the surface over the last 4 years. Everyone is polarized and perhaps a bit traumatized and it often looks like apathy or defeat. And like many of us, I am interrupted by reoccurring thoughts – trying to understand the vitriol and annihilation.” Maybe we figure out our next move when we release what it won’t be?

I left a pile on the curb of Christmas’ past, a neighbor came by and collected the bounty, I smiled at the repurposing of life, realizing what I let go of says as much about me as what I choose to keep. My Mother was all about repurposing, letting go, passing along, holding space for the new, and unexpected. She was a jewel.

The past is somewhere we can walk with our memories but never with our footsteps says Mimi Novic. That is grace if you ask me. I realize I’ve spent several years nourishing the pain of my parent’s respective passings, it’s how I confront difficulties, hunkering down, avoiding the light, the possibilities, the truth. Eventually I lift myself up and face the new reality as disfigured as it appears without my beloved. I realize the pain isn’t caused by letting things or people go, what actually hurts is swimming exhaustively against the natural flow that was intended to carry you says Kianu Starr.

“When we can’t let go of the past, painful moments accumulate in us; metastasizing in our consciousness like an emotional cancer.” Bryant McGill

I think this is what I need to do and maybe what we need to do as a nation? Nothing and no one is meant to stay forever, the past can not continue to cast our future in darkness, today we find ourselves walking on untrodden ground, but I remain deeply grateful that I live in a country that values democracy, equality, stays on the leading edge of healthcare, and remains a beacon of hope for many in a desperately ailing world.

Between sunrise and sunset, I walk along the edge of the dry beach, the turbulent tides have receded as the winds die down, and calm returns. I’m enjoying the rays of sun on my skin, standing tall in the pinnacle of the day, a sense of peace coming up from my heart, eliminating the vestiges of my shadow self.


  • “I always get to where I am going by walking away from where I have been.” Winnie the Pooh”
  • “We are often let down by the most trusted people and loved by the most unexpected ones. Some make us cry for things that we haven’t done, while others ignore our faults and just see our smile. Some leave us when we need them the most, while some stay with us even when ask them to leave. The world is a mixture of people. We just need to know which hand to shake and which hand to hold! After all that’s life, learning to hold on and learning to let go.” Chanda Kaushik
  • “Clear out the past, layout the present and prepare for a much better and brighter future.” Omoakhuana Anthonia
  • Announcement: Lit Youngstown’s 5th Annual Fall Literary Festival, October 7-9, 2021, Youngstown, Ohio. Theme: “Our Shared Story” Visiting Writers: Ross Gay, Jan Beatty, Bonnie Proudfoot, Mick Geither


Leave a Comment

  1. What a beautiful essay! I hope, I hope, I hope–because this country sure needs some healing. You’ve also helped me to remember my own mom, who also endured chemo (a lot of it over many years). We’re lucky to have had those jewels in our lives, but I understand hunkering down with that grief, staying in that shadow as a comfort. Looking to the light with you, today–and many thanks for the announcement of the lit festival I’m involved with!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rebecca, thank you for sharing the story of your beloved “jewel” and standing with me in the memories of harrowing medical procedures. I still feel it in my feet that 2021 is going to knock our socks off! It was my pleasure to announce your festival! Wishing you well, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you LaDonna, the journey has indeed been long and painful. I love how you put this, “hopeful 2021 will bring the changes 2020 brought to our awareness.” I’ll have to sit with that for a while. I appreciate your comment LaDonna, all my best, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to watch an Inauguration without that particular memory of Mom surfacing? It’s interesting how memories are anchored to our most potent emotions and when they circle around the details that emerge are ever so surprising. C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m just now catching up, late to read this one and yet still feels so timely and hopeful. Your references to legacy speak to me, Cheryl, with your mom and with our country. I feel empowered by your reminder that we can play an active role in protecting and sustaining that, no matter what’s gone down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mary Ellen, always love to see your name in the comments, I just sink into my space, and nestle with your thoughts. I think with all the chaos in our world I had to slow it all down, make connections to my own swirling planet, in order to make sense of it all. It seems our trials and tribulations, worldly or personal, come with such strange didactics? Protecting and sustaining is a formative lesson especially in the middle of a pandemic, political discord, or disorder. Missed you all yesterday, until next week, C


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