| What I’m Holding On To |

For Keeps

“Just toss it!” is the rallying cry of these weeks. But some items we simply can’t bring ourselves to discard. 9 writers share

I was on a roll. My career as Keeper of Everything was over. I listened to classes on decluttering, read books on tidying, and was on a crusade, ruthlessly discarding every single sweater, book, paper, toy, and teddy that was no longer in use. (See? I was even following the revered Marie Kondo’s order of discarding: clothes, books, papers, komono/miscellany, and sentimental items.)

Then came the folder that held our family’s important documents: marriage certificate, birth certificates, deeds etc. I opened each paper, straightened it out, and put each in its own plastic folder, in ascending order of time.

2003: Certificate of Birth. Child’s Name: Time of Birth: Date of Birth: Gender: Country of Birth:

Was a birth certificate relevant if the child was no longer alive?

Had I used it in the past three years? Thirteen? Sixteen?

Will I ever use it again?


But I held on to that slip of paper with trembling hands. I remembered that first Friday night after she was born when I lit the Shabbos candles. They had told me she was very sick and her prognosis was grim. The tears would not stop as I lit an extra candle for her. Whatever happens, this extra candle is here to stay.

I took my baby home and loved her for five short months. And then, her mission completed, she left this place for a better world. She left me to mourn her, to miss her, and to never forget her until we meet again.

I studied every line of print on that page, then carefully folded it, slipped it in a plastic sleeve, and filed it away. It bore witness that she had been born, that she had lived, breathed, that I had once cradled her in my arms.

Could it be 18 years ago? It seemed so long, yet at the same time, so short. The memories are there, stark as if it were yesterday.

This paper may be irrelevant, but I’ll never throw it away. My baby will always be mine, always be a part of me, always in my heart and in my memories.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 734)

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