Last Things

There’s a football in my gift closet.  I know it’s there.  It’s been there since three years ago when my husband and I both went holiday shopping and, unbeknownst to each other, each bought a football for our nephew.  That’s okay, we thought.  He must really go through them; he puts one on his list every year.  We didn’t know that would be his last Christmas.  How could anyone know it would be his last Christmas?  Last year, the football took me by surprise, when I opened the closet to put in new purchases.  Every time I went in there over the last year, it’s given me an extra jab.  This year, I remembered it before I even bought anything.  I know it’s there.  I keep thinking maybe we should donate it to Toys for Tots.  Do we know another boy who loves football?  One who would really enjoy it?  Is there a better place to put it to use?  But I’m not sure I’m ready to take it out of the closet.  I know it’s silly to let it sit there.  Someone could be using it.  It hurts to know it’s there.  I apologized to my husband ahead of time when I asked him to get the wrapping paper from in there, knowing he would see it, too.  Knowing it would hurt him, too.  But I think it might hurt more if it wasn’t in there.  I don’t want it to leave the house.  Not unless it’s going where it belongs.  I know I can’t give it to the person it belongs to.  I know keeping it isn’t going to make him miraculously available to receive a Christmas present.  And yet.

Last things are hard.  It’s why we keep the ashes instead of burying or scattering them.  It’s why we don’t pack away the baby clothes.  It’s why we put off ordering the tombstone.  It’s why that football may stay in that closet forever.

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