What do you keep when you lose someone? We're still figuring that out.
When we moved a month after Kirk went missing it was so chaotic, so horrible, that I was hardly thinking straight. Anything belonging to the kids that they really wanted to keep we kept; absolutely everything of Kirk's was carefully packed up. My own things didn't matter. Furniture was given or thrown away. Twelve boxes of books were simply donated to the library en masse. They were, after all, only things.
Gradually, and it took ages, I was willing and able to begin to sort through Kirk's possessions. Many of his clothes were given to family members, and it's been wonderful to see my father wearing Kirk's sweater or our son using his coat every day. There are many other things though that we still have, things that are tangible pieces of story. A few of them are in our tiny house - the Venetian masks he brought back from Italy, the division coin he was given in Germany - but most of them are packed away in boxes.
Every now and then though I come across one unexpectedly and still the memories are so immediate, so strong. The other day I saw this in the garage lying next to the tool box:
And immediately I was back when we were dating. Kirk was a dedicated hiker and camper and this knife went with him on every trip. I think he bought it after he came home from Thailand because if you look closely at the blade:
You can see where he inscribed it with several lines of Thai script. It's an icon really of who Kirk was at that moment twenty years ago. Some day it will be handed on - to the Male Child perhaps, or even some day to a grandchild.
For now it will go back into the storage box but the memories, refreshed and strengthened, will stay.