I went to an estate sale this weekend with my mom to look at some beautiful antiques. This couple that was in their early eighties and had no children were moving out of their home and into assisted living. They had spent their lives traveling to exotic destinations and their house was full of some of the most exquisitely crafted things I’d ever seen. Each of them told a story, all of which they had to sell.
My mom was speaking with the wife of the couple as I looked around the room. The mood was definitely somber. It was kind of like walking through a museum of someone’s life, and with every item I picked up to eventually purchase I felt like I was stealing something from them.
Can you imagine? To so carefully curate your environment, each object a keepsake from an experience that is so long a memory it is essentially sacred. And each object bolstering the case for the lifestyle choice you made: to not have children, to explore and experience, to take the road untraveled. And all of it pawned off, taken piecemeal by strangers who couldn’t possibly appreciate it, so that you could live out the rest of your days being yelled at by a surly hospice worker.
For a moment their conversation stopped, and my mother and this woman simply looked at each other. The air in the room was taught with something close to sadness, but not quite. Something immaterial, untouchable.
At the same time a random man had walked in off the street, and toured the living room once. For a second I thought he felt it too, as if he was also wishing “If only there was something that could be done”. But he just turned to us and said “Shit, they’re all out of eclipse sunglasses,” and left.