For many years, it sat alone in a box. So much time has passed, that the contents within really didn’t apply. Each time I looked at it, I created a mental note to get rid of it. Yet, even after over a decade of the final events, the folder remained.
It was created out of necessity. There was so much information floating around, so many things to do, that it was logical to put them into one place. Little by little, the documentation over my father’s illness was coming together; various correspondence from different agencies, doctor’s notes, and anything else that we might deem useful in his case. Over time, the folder told its own story. The weight and physical look to it alluded to the heavy history behind it. Inside, was a whirlwind of information, both difficult and painful to digest.
As time passed, the notebook became a mobile file cabinet. Once my father had passed, it hid behind various items in the spare room. One day, I thought to myself, I’ll take care of it. When that time would be, was never clear.
The time to finally conquer it came. It had been over 15 years since some of those documents were initially set into the folder. There was no need for this information. I set aside small time periods over the next few days when I would conquer the folder, and slowly, shred the information within it. Most information was very easy to get rid of. It only took time to get through it all. But, the very end of the folder proved to be something different. There, mixed with various hospital documents and illegible doctors notes, were detailed medical reports. Information indicating symptoms, causes and prognosis. Information that had been burned into my mind from repeated visits. It was data that I couldn’t help but commit to memory, and no matter how much time had passed, failed to forget.
In the past 15 years or so, never once had I brought myself to read this information. It didn’t make any difference to read them. They wouldn’t change what happened or make me understand the past any better. Yet, when it came time to shred this information, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I read through the information quickly, bringing old memories and a subtle feeling of sadness to the surface. It’s so much, I thought, it’s a lot for anyone to deal with.
These reports, which represented such a definitive period in our lives, couldn’t just be thrown in the shredder. I couldn’t find a good reason to keep them, and yet, I couldn’t ignore the feelings attached to them. Eventually, I decide to set aside two reports, and get rid of the rest.
In a few short days, I had finally managed to shred all of the documents.
All this time, I held onto that folder, not wanting to deal with the contents or what they represented. I didn’t want to re-visit the past, or go through the painstaking tasks of shredding a handful at a time. The empty folder sat in a box of items destined for trash; its dilapidated state offering both a sense of completion, and a strange sad feeling. It was as if I had finally released myself from the memories. I could remember them freely, but not with the difficult details that the folder represented. Without the physical reminder, the weight of the past seemingly crept back into distant memory.