Remembering the Bigger Picture

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Have you ever had one of those days where everything is going as you’ve planned, and then some little thing–an email from a friend, a phrase from your child, a story on the news–just stops you in your tracks? And then suddenly the whole day looks different? Today has been one of those days for me.

This morning, I went to an estate sale in a neighborhood just down the road from me.  A neighborhood in my same, affluent Dallas suburb, where there appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary going on.

My plan for the day was to swing by the sale, then head up to my antique mall booth to spend a few hours rearranging inventory and stocking paint. But as I was loading up my few purchases into my van after leaving the sale, this young man, presumably a neighbor, came up to me and started talking. He said, “You want to hear something crazy?” Trying to be friendly, I replied, “Sure.” That’s when he told me that the person in the home of the estate sale had taken their own life.

He spoke it with almost a strange delight on his face, like he was excited about the neighborhood drama. It was really strange. I just told him that was really sad to hear, got in my car, and left.

I couldn’t make it out of the neighborhood though before I had to pull over and stop to process what I had just heard.

When you go to an estate sale, or even when you are looking through things at a flea market, you often don’t get to hear the stories behind the items.

Rarely do you know anything about the person who owned all of these things, the person whose home you are now shopping in.  It’s very easy to forget that what you are digging through at one time belonged to a real person with a real story.

I have lost a member of my family to suicide, and it was absolutely terrible. It still is, in fact. The amount of hurt, confusion, frustration, and regret that is left behind when someone takes their life is hard to explain.  There is something about knowing that your loved one chose to leave you behind that adds a unique pain to the grief.

I stopped and prayed for the family of this person from the estate sale. I prayed for their comfort, for their grief to find peace in Jesus, and for loving people to come along side of them to walk with them through their loss. Having no idea who this person was, praying was all I could really do.

But as I drove home I realized that I can also write, and share with you all the experience. So instead of heading up to my antique booth as planned, I came back home and am now writing this post. I want to take a minute and remember the person whose home I was in.


By looking at their things, I can tell they loved music and being outdoors. They had a huge record collection and tons of fishing gear in their garage. They also loved things in miniature–dollhouses, Christmas villages, figurines, etc.  They were possibly a member of the military at one time, as many military items were on sale in their home. If they were, I thank them for their service. This person loved books, they liked to work in their yard, and they had the biggest coffee mug collection I have ever seen. Maybe they were Chevrolet fans too.


So what is the bigger picture here?  What is it that I want myself to remember? It’s simply this–behind each item there was a person and a story.  Yes, I sell things, but so much more than that, what I hope to sell is some sort memory. It’s true–you can’t take it with you.  One day all the things you have collected, all the things you treasure will either be tossed out or sold away.


What I hope to do is take things that were important to someone once, and find a new person who will also see them as important.  To take a 1966 Chevrolet yard stick and try to find someone today who is a devoted Chevy person, and who just might take that yard stick and hang in up in their garage.


Again, rarely do I know who previously owned the items I sell, and so those who buy the items from me won’t ever know either.  But what we can know is that it was a real person, with real dreams, real loves, real hurts. And so these things left behind things carry a little bit of that real-ness with them into their new lives.  A faint memory of their former owner.

Thank you, readers, for letting me process through this with you. I don’t want to be the kind of person who callously skims over the realities of our hurt, broken world.

I so often do just that though, whether it’s because I’m busy, distracted, or too overwhelmed by all the hurt there is. In my small way I wanted to take a minute today and remember this person’s life.  And to remind us all that real life is found in loving those around us, and in cherishing the memories of those we have lost.



Saturday 21st of November 2015

Good post, thanks for taking your time to write it. When we moved into our current home I found a few items left up on the top shelf in the back of a closet that belonged to the woman who had lived here. In talking with the neighbors I learned that she had loved this house so much that when she passed away her husband wouldn't change a thing. Well, we bought the house after he passed away and needless to say, we changed almost everything. But I keep those 2 items on a table in my sunroom and think of her often and tell her how much I love her house too and plan on taking good care of it.


Saturday 21st of November 2015

Thank you for the way you remembered & loved on a person & family you didn't even know by prayer! I love reading your posts...this one is definitely a favorite :)


Saturday 21st of November 2015

Thanks Kristin. Praying for the family was really all I knew to do. After losing someone to suicide my hearts breaks anytime I hear about a family going through that same loss.

Jane B

Saturday 21st of November 2015

Like you, I have a booth - actually 2 - south of you a little in Richardson, TX. I love to browse estate sales and usually am a little sad as I walk thru and touch and/or buy items that were once loved & cared for by someone now gone. I will, many times, ask those running the estate sale if they know anything about the person and sometimes they do and are willing to share a little. I have on some occasions been lucky enough to talk to a family member who is there but in the background. I will many times try to add a little short story to the sale tag so the buyer will know a bit of the history or a little about who it came from. For me, it's a way for the story to continue corny as that its nice to hear that I'm not alone in walking thru those sales with a little sadness and curiosity and a lot of respect for those items. Thanks so much for sharing your story.


Saturday 21st of November 2015

I love that idea Jane! I would love to visit your booth down in Richardson and read all the stories. Are you at the Richardson Mercantile?


Friday 20th of November 2015

This touched a special place in my heart....and at just the right time. Thank you Melanie for sharing, and even more, for caring. My husband had a lung transplant August 2014. He has been doing so well. The docs call him Miracle Man! We've been blessed. However, he has been in a slow and steady decline since Oct, this year. They think they might have found the cause and will soon begin treatment, but each day is a gift at this point. We've started paring down and looking at our treasures and wondering what they might mean to others. It's a difficult, but necessary process....I'm just thankful for your post and the reminder that there will always be someone who cares. It's also a reminder that as I wonder around antique stores looking for that little something I "must have" I will pause to be thankful for a life once lived! Baskets of Blessings to you!, Willa


Saturday 21st of November 2015

Thank you for sharing about your husband Willa. I am so very sorry to hear of his recent decline in health. I so hope you are all able to enjoy another holiday season together. I can only imagine the difficulty of going through your possessions and thinking about how you may can pass them on to others. Life is hard. I so look forward to eternity where there is no more loss. Blessings to you and your family.


Friday 20th of November 2015

Very thoughtful post. Thank you for writing it to us. Old things belong to be respected for what and who they were. Now we can treasure them and the memories they carry inside. Smiles


Saturday 21st of November 2015

You are so welcome Nancy. Thank you for reading my post!

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