I couldn’t face the contents of my file cabinets the winter of 2014. Too many decisions what to keep, pitch, and forward after I retired my lavender farm and writing workshops. I avoided the top drawer of the tall cabinet in a corner of my study’s closet-could not tread upon the remnants of my beloved deceased, relapse again into memory’s dark and unknown depths.

Patience, I prayed. Rest. Restore your mind, body, and spirit this winter. Write.

Faithfully, each weedy growing season since, my gardens reminded me how paper multiplies like dandelions in this trade. Better attend my files when the snow flies. Although I’ve conducted business electronically the past twenty-eight years, I prefer the tangible manuscript to read and edit, and tear sheets of my published works to archive.

At last, upon the conclusion of this past harvest, the seventh year since 2014, I declared January 2022 the month to purge the old. Time to make room for the new.

And so my weeding began Tuesday, January 25, with the small desk file beside my right knee. “Save only what takes your breath away, and what you may need for future projects,” said my inner administrator.

Thus, a box of trash overwhelmed my “saved” pile. In the process, I recovered my paper calendars from 2021 back to 1994, the commencement of my writing life.

I struck an easy stride the following day as I opened my study’s closet door and pulled out the top drawer of the tall cabinet beside its wider companion in the corner.

Folder upon folder, I recognized names on former workshop rosters, and guest speakers for Michigan herb and horticultural therapy conferences I’d attended at Michigan State University.

Leaders of those organizations and educational events developed a camaraderie of like minds I’ve found common in their fields of interest and study – a servant’s spirit to perpetuate their mission of teaching the healing virtue of growing and consuming herbs and flowers.

Proof of an abundant life stored in the second and third drawer filled a large plastic bag. Within the bottom drawer, my transcripts from one community college and two universities, class syllabi, and graded assignments remain for my random reference and amusement.

There’s always something to learn again.

The third snowy day, emboldened to complete my goal, I opened the top drawer of the corner cabinet.

Front to back, the paper trail of sanctified family memorabilia – birth certificates, marriage certificate, Warranty Deed for our property, passports, family photographs I’ve collected to frame – waited for my touch.

And yes, I removed the contents from the last hanging file in the back.

Unfolded each paper.

Read every word.

Studied our firstborn’s beaming face in photographs she left behind. They all tell a tragic story too often echoed in this broken world.

Dear Reader, I weeded nothing from Becky’s papers. I saved what took my breath away, what my younger daughters need for their future. Their sister’s birth and death certificate rest in peace.

And so do I.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.