The best comparison I can make to my going through the 30 or so years of our family’s possessions to decide what to pack for my new apartment, what to pack for my temporary apartment, what to hold out for my son and daughter or my daughter-in-law and son-in-law, what to donate and, finally, what to throw away is one that’s similar to walking through a field with buried land mines.  Every so often I would come across something that was so full of memories of the past as to be emotionally overwhelming.

My initial plan with any mover I chose was for them to pack the books.  They would grab big stacks of them off the shelves and plop them unceremoniously into boxes. Then I decided that it would not only be less costly if I packed them, but I could actually handle all of my husband’s books and fine-tune my decision-making process of whether I was keeping them or giving them to my kids, who very much wanted them.  Many were inscribed with his name and, occasionally, a quick scrawl that indicated what grade he was in (elementary school and high school) or dorm room number (college).  Those were prized family heirlooms for all of us.

Going through a shelf of poetry books, I came across one with a protruding yellow sticky note. It was a book of poems by Robert Browning.

Book of Robert Browning Poetry

I opened the book to the page with the sticky note.  It was the poem entitled, “Rabbi Ben Ezra”.  It was heavily annotated in my husband’s handwriting and probably dated back to notes he made in a college class.  But the first two lines of the first verse were ones he had quoted to me on several occasions, certainly as we aged:

“Grow old along with me!

The best is yet to be.”

The most recently was after we returned home from a big family celebration marking our 40th wedding anniversary in September 2008.

The heart surgery was 10 months later.

"Rabbi Ben Ezra" Poem