In Her Closet

Last week, I prepared to enter my mother’s walk-in closet. Over the past several months, I’ve been going to her house — my childhood home — a couple of times a week, sifting through piles of papers, plastic containers and desk drawers. Discarding trivial things, such as my school bus form from seventh grade and dried out pens, is a snap. Figuring out what to keep is not.

When I was growing up, my mom kept her closet locked and alarmed — the kind that would alert the police if someone tripped it. She showed me regularly where she kept the key and how to disarm the alarm (there was a small hidden switch in a different closet), meant to protect her precious jewelry inside.