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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Forgotten Memories

I have been in the mood to get rid of stuff I no longer want or need. I started my decluttering by getting rid of a dozen or so old VHS tapes. Not only have I not watched them for decades, but I can't watch them due to a lack of a VHS player.

Next on the list was my four-drawer file cabinet. It is stuffed with receipts for large purchases, owner manuals, insurance information, etc. I threw out some 99 percent of my daughter's middle school and high school report cards, old medical reports and similar outdated paperwork. The next folder was labeled 'burglary,' and contained all the documentation from the burglary of my house in California in the late 2000s.

Since the case was closed once the insurance business was sorted out and paid, and at least two of the culprits were brought to justice, there was no need to keep any of the paperwork. But reading the victim impact statement I wrote, and delivered, at court really brought back the unpleasant memories. As I reread the two-page statement, the anger I felt at having my home and my belongings violated jumped off the page. The word I used to describe how I felt was 'pissed.' Now maybe that isn't a word I should have used when speaking before a judge in a courtroom, but that is how I felt. I described how I lay awake the night of the burglary, staring in anger at the ceiling, and how my daughter was too terrified to go to sleep. I spoke of the feeling of being violated, of wanting to wash every item of clothing the thieves had touched as they dug through my dresser drawers. I reported on the cost I had incurred for the insurance deductible, the time off work, the effort to find a value for every stolen item, and the cost of having my door locks rekeyed and an alarm system installed. 

Very few of the items were recovered, but the two miscreants (or their parents) were forced to reimburse me for the stolen items and the expenses I incurred. But as I said in my impact statement, not only were physical items and cash stolen from me, but so was my (and my neighbors') sense of security. We lived in a nice, supposedly safe neighborhood. Many of my neighbors were elderly; some of them lived alone. Their sense of security and safety in their homes was destroyed. Nobody could replace that.

I put a padlock on the gate to my back yard, had the locks changed on the doors, and had a monitored alarm installed. I did the same thing when I moved to another state. I now have a monitored alarm, locked gates, and three dogs that don't hesitate to sound the alert at the slightest provocation.

Perhaps I shouldn't have taken a close look at those papers. Perhaps I should just have tossed them in the recycle bin or into the shredder. Some memories are best left alone and unremembered.