Our old kitchen table is a real workhorse. Its self-storing leaves no longer slide into place, but its scarred legs are still sturdy. The teak veneer top is streaked with yellow and purple paint no amount of scrubbing can erase. Glitter that finds its way into every crevice where children have lived sparkles from its cracks.
Looking at it now, you'd never guess the table's romantic past. The first time I saw it was soon after I met my future husband, when he invited me over for dinner. He set it with yellow sweetheart roses and candles, poured good wine and served spaghetti made from scratch. Then came the family dinners around the table once we had kids. Homework, crafts, cookie decorating -- the table bore everything, a silent and steady witness, even when we overloaded it with books, papers and all the stuff of family life throughout the years.
When my daughter Ally went to college, that table kept her company in her first home away from home. Two years later, she wanted to sell it before studying abroad. Although it would be cumbersome to move and store, I insisted on keeping the table, certain she'd need it upon her return. But whose need was it, really?
We can all identify with hanging onto things that comfort us in times of transition. Distressed children cling to their teddy bears and tattered blankets; distressed mothers cling to their tables. There's no age limit for loveys.
Eventually, after savoring my memories and swallowing the lump in my throat, I called Ally and said, "Sell the table." It was now, after all, just a ratty piece of furniture. I could bear the loss, and even look forward to filling the space that would open up in letting go.