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We are moving sometime in the next year.  Moving away from the house we’ve called home for 20 years. The house with our children’s handprints permanently recorded in walkways in the backyard and laughter and tears tucked into the nooks and crannies of every room.

In preparation for this move we’re cleaning out, culling the necessary from the not-so-necessary. You accumulate a lot of stuff in 20 years.

Tonight I was speeding through boxes of stuff. An old briefcase I’ll never use again: yard sale; a program fan from Wesley and Becky’s wedding: keepsake; VHS tapes with recordings of old television shows: trash. And with no warning of its approach, I hit the speed bump hard and fast.

I pulled the greeting card from the baby blue envelope and read “Congratulations on Your New Baby Boy” and the next one, “To the Happy Parents of a New Baby Boy.”  And then the one that brought me to a complete stop: “Our hopes and dreams are all renewed by the child who rests peacefully safe within our arms.” I had stumbled upon the cards that were sent when Ryan was born. Yes, we had such hopes and dreams. But no, he did not remain safe within our arms.

I was paralyzed, staring numbly at the cards with sailboats and teddy bears and rosy cheeked baby boys, the cards that came attached to flower arrangements and the church bulletins announcing his birth. And, as the heavens opened up and poured torrents of rain from the sky, so too, my tears fell.

My cleaning for this night came to a halt. I must slow down and relive the joy of his birth and, inevitably, the pain and grief of his death.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll pick up speed and clean some more.