Everyone tells you to do it at some point: let go. Let go of the past. Let go of worrying about the future. Let go of the need to control every aspect of your life.
The problem is that letting go of anything is much easier said than done. If it were easy to simply "let go" of anything that was damaging us, the mental health industry would be much smaller than it is.
In this excerpt from "Decision Paralysis" in Road Kills, Tina's grandmother is recounting a dream in which her dead husband tells her she needs to let go. Something deep inside her knows that something dark and awful is coming for her if she doesn't let go.
“I saw your grandfather in my dreams last night,” she said. “I saw him clear as if he were still alive. He was sitting on a little stool right there in the door of that old tool shed. Standing wide open, that door was, with all those dead man’s rusty old tools hanging on hooks just inside of it. He was sitting there just like he did in life sometimes, pulling a drag on a cigarette and squinting at me through that old blue smoke when it hit him in the eye. Then he raised both his hands up and looked around like he was gesturing at all the stuff locked up in that old shed.
“And then he spoke to me, Tina. He said, ‘What the hell are you doing, Janine, hanging on to all this old stuff? Who are you keeping it for? Don’t you see that all you’re doing is making more work and upkeep for yourself? All you have to do is let go of some of the responsibilities you’ve piled on top of yourself since I died, hon. Then you don’t have to make so many decisions.’
“I tried to tell him that I couldn’t let it go. That the tool shed was all I had left of him. I tried to tell him that if I let go of all that he’d be gone forever. I wanted to explain that I can’t just stop taking care of things, either. If I don’t take care of them, no one will. Who’ll help your mommy and daddy take care of you if I don’t do it? My mouth was hanging open to say all that, but the words just wouldn’t come out. It was like my tongue was paralyzed.
“And Jesse, your poor old grandfather, just sat there and looked at me for another minute. Then you know what he said? He looked at me and said, ‘Tina comes in here sometimes, you know. She can take care of herself better than you think she can.’ Then he waved that cigarette in the air so the smoke made a little squiggle in front of him and he recited some lines from that old folk song about the worms. The one about being dead and going to rot? How did it go?
The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out,
The worms play pinochle on your snout,
They eat your eyes, they eat your nose,
They eat the jelly between your toes.
“That’s what he said to me, Tina. And I sat straight up in bed, wide awake, right then. I crawled out of bed and stood there in my nightgown, looking out the window at that old tool shed of his. The full moon was shining right on the door, bright enough to cast shadows. And there it sat, that old tool shed, just as it has been for a long time now, all closed up and silent as the grave.”
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