On what’s typically considered to be the most important day in a young woman’s life, I stood in my long white dress terrified about the vow I was about to take. Then he walked into the room and took my breath away.

Proudly smiling and looking especially handsome in his new navy blue suit, the first man I ever loved engulfed me in his usual bear hug, and asked, “Honey, are you ready?”

“I’m scared,” was all I could utter.

Weaving my arm through his, he interlocked our fingers just like he did when I was young and afraid and my dad led me to the doors of the church. As we readied ourselves to walk in he kissed my cheek and reassured me, “You’re going to be just fine, but never forget, I’m always here for you.”

Throughout the years, every time he stood tall in that blue suit, which was typically reserved for religious celebrations, the feeling in my heart would be the same. I collected myself time and time again as I studied the image of this fine man, and it wasn’t because of how he looked. After all, it was just a few pieces of clothing. Instead, it was what the outfit symbolized that I loved. That suit stood for everything my father embodied; grace, dignity, and sophistication as he honored the Lord. Nothing was more awe-inspiring than to see him dressed up; his head bowed in prayer.

When life became cruel, and my father lost the use of his legs, there were no more occasions to wear it. Perfectly pressed and sequestered to the far corner of his closet, it took on a second life, sadly reminding me of my wallflower days at teen club dances— standing in the dark, hoping someone would notice. The only difference was that I’d one day find my way into the light, while the suit was destined to remain in the dark.

Years later, after his passing, it became my responsibility to clear out his belongings. I knew the experience could knock me at the back of my knees with a baseball bat and send me tumbling, so I took on the persona of a drill sergeant. Allowing no emotion, I forced myself to methodically place things into piles; what to keep, what to give away, and what to throw away. Before long, all was gone – except for the suit. I couldn’t bring myself to part with it. Recently, however, I had an epiphany. It’s been two years since his passing, and it was time to set it free.

Much like my mother, I often find myself paralyzed when tasked with giving away something with a memory laced with it. If it was gone, I rationalized, would I forget it ever existed in the first place? But realizing one day my children would be left with my mess to clear out, I decided it was finally time to take action.

Taking the jacket off the hanger, I wove my arms through the long sleeves, wrapped myself up into a chrysalis, and inhaled the masculine scent of his Old Spice aftershave, and breathed in his essence.

Quickly, tears began soaking my cheeks, but surprisingly they weren’t sad tears. By letting this beautiful suit go, I hoped that another man would one day stand proudly smiling at his daughter, and her in return, on the biggest day of her life before giving her away. I was giving it a chance to be reborn.

I don’t need his suit, or any other trinket, to be reminded of how much we loved each other. I’ve hundreds of pictures to keep the visual alive. When I miss his strength, and the sound of his voice, I just close my eyes and cloak myself in a warm memory that interlocks our fingers once again. A daddy and his daughter; soulfully, lovingly, and eternally intertwined.

We all have too much clutter in our lives. But liberating material items into the hands of another can be a joyful experience because it creates a rebirth for a new purpose. Are there things you need to get rid of? And if so, how will you keep them still alive for you?