Packing up a life–all 20 years of it | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

In the space between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I’m packing up a life.

All 20 years of it.

Early this year, we had mutually decided to sell the last of our co-owned properties. It had been several years now since the legal dissolution of our marriage, and it was neither practical nor viable to keep the house.

After months of long, tedious and oftentimes complicated negotiations, a new owner finally bought the house. The end had finally arrived, but with it, many new beginnings for everyone who once lived in that house.

It was time for everyone to move forward.

What does packing up a life entail?

The last few weekends have been devoted to sifting through a lifetime of memories shared, memories we had made together, and apart. Sorting an endless array of boxes was like having your very life flash before you. Photographs, documents, books, certificates, letters, toys, awards, old clothes—each piece brought with it a memory and corresponding tinges of both sadness and joy.

If one were to divide a life into thirds, with the ideal of living up to 90 years old, then I am now a few years shy of entering the final third of my life on earth, and the ex-husband, now a few years into his final third, as well.

What we were leaving behind, giving away, selling or keeping were mainly the bulk of the second third of our lives. In the living room, at this writing, are about 20 balikbayan boxes that will go to various organizations, schools and libraries.


The furniture and artworks have been divided, and I opted to bring only those pieces that I had a strong personal attachment to. Pieces whose back stories remind me of the different phases of my life, I took with me—nothing more.

I had learned to live content in my own little corner of the world with little, and I had been happy. I chose instead to invest in making memories with my loved ones. I’m keeping only what is necessary and what, as Marie Kondo describes it, “gives me joy.”

In packing up a life, you learn that you need to be ruthless in letting go of many things. But it also teaches you to be gracious and grateful for everything.

In the ruthless purging, I found healing, as well. I was glad to be able to sell and pass on many articles of furniture to people who I knew would love, appreciate and treasure them. And with each piece that I let go of, I would utter a blessing, “May you bring joy into your next home, and may your new owner find much joy in you.”

The year 2018 was clearly a season of letting go. It was much more challenging than years past, but also good training for all the letting go that is yet to come.

In every cycle and season of our lives, we find comfort and strength in knowing that in an unseen future there is an all-knowing God who looks after us, and who will always have our best interests at heart.

What was the biggest lesson you learned the previous year, and what are you most thankful for, a young friend asked me the other day. It wasn’t a difficult question to answer. My answer to the first was learning again and again to trust and let go. It was the running theme of my life from January to December.

To the second question, it was grace. It was being always thankful for His amazing grace—how it has seen me through, how it had carried me, and how it continues to carry me into the brand new year that awaits.

Wishing everyone a bright, and hopeful 2019 filled with an abundance of grace!

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