throwing away tokens

June 12, 2015 at 10:12 pm 29 comments


Since Moonlight and Harbor died, I have not been able to throw away their “stuff.”  I still have their toys, their food, their beds.  Even the chicken I was going to cook for Moonlight is still in the freezer… Harbor died a year ago and Moonlight died at the beginning of this year.


Dr. Val believes that it is harder for me to get rid of things because the concept of “throwing away” has a much deeper meaning for me compared to most people… since growing up, I was thrown away all the time.  I don’t know.  All I can think about is that Moonlight and Harbor were throwaways like me; street animals that no one wanted… and I do not want to disrespect them by getting rid of their things….AND something about keeping their stuff is comforting to me; I still feel like I have a connection.

When I was growing up, I would collect little tokens of the places I lived…. candy wrappers,twixwrapper small toys, etc, because I wanted to keep the connection, to make sure I remembered that I was once there, even if everyone forgot about me. Somehow the things I took from foster homes were proof that I was there. Maybe I feel the same way with Moonlight’s and Harbor’s things…I want that connection, proof that they were there.  Dr. Val tried to tell and show me that the things don’t keep the memories… that the memories are in my heart and head.  She used a couple examples of stories I told, but it did not help me get rid of their stuff.

Maybe I kethief_m_m-420x0ep things because I never had alot of things.  I’ve never had alot of “stuff”.  The things I have are ridiculous, but have some meaning to me. If anyone ever tried to rob my place, they would laugh, take some puffy cheetos and leave.

I still live like I am homeless, even though I have an apartment and a job.  I don’t own alot of “stuff”…. … and I am not sure I want it. Maybe I have been “stuffless” for so long that I don’t know any different.  I don’t even own a cell phone in a world where everyone has one!

In foster care, sometimes I had “stuff,” but lots of times I didn’t have “stuff.”  Miss Liz, my first foster mom, , bought me the first real toy I ever had. She gave me a light brown stuffed bear that was super soft and had a black bow-tie. It made me feel safe.  I successfully held onto that bear until I aged-out.  I lost it living on the streets. It fell off my backpack somewhere and it was gone. I remember trying to retrace my steps, hoping to find my bear, but no luck.  I felt like part of my “safety” was gone, when my bear was gone.

Much of the “sttumblr_m50h8btyYX1r6hsmno1_500uff” I collected growing up got destroyed. In group homes and on the street, your “stuff” becomes other bigger kids “stuff” if they want it. I had a piece of blanket ribbon I had saved from my brother… I hid it under my mattress in a group home I was staying.  Some bigger kids took it and burned it while I watched.  No reason to do that…. but they did it because they could. So maybe all this left me wondering why have stuff if others are going to take it away?

Some foster parents gave me “stuff,” but when I was dumped by them, they took the “stuff” back. Clothes were left behind, toys left behind, ….things that should have been mine weren’t.  Since lots of foster homes didn’t let me take “stuff,” when I left…. I took things I could put in my pockets… for that connection and to remind me that I was there. Sadly even most of those stolen things were destroyed or lost over the years.

Moonlight’s and Harbor’s stuff is not mine, it’s theirs. It feels disrespectful to throw it away…it’s not trash and they weren’t trash.

Maybe it’s crazy, but if I throw it away,  I feel like I am throwing them away….

….and then they will be forgotten.



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

rehired and perceptions from the past themes

29 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dee Kraft  |  June 12, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with holding onto things to remind you of the past. Sometimes, those connections can be comforting. 1 year later, I still have not gotten rid of my beloved late dog’s (his name was Bear) toys or dog dish. I still have the cat collar from a cat I lost years ago, her name was Feather. Keeping memories can be an ongoing link, and if you need it, then you need it, LT.

  • 2. Jen Layton  |  June 12, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I’m so glad you are posting again on a more regular basis. I understand not wanting to get rid of their things-I still have things that belonged to my first two cats. I believe that you are accurate in your analysis of why you took tokens from every home you lived in. You were crying out for positive attachment and took anything you could get. I can’t begin to think I understand how it feels to always have the things that should have been mine taken from me every time I moved. I would probably refuse to get rid of the belongings of the two living, breathing things I was most attached to, too.

  • 3. Another Time  |  June 12, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    My dog died a few years back. She had a bone eating cancer that was about to make her body a miserable prison. I still have all her bandanas and toys, and her most favorite toys sit up on my bookshelf. I don’t let my cats or current dog touch them because they were hers. I might let my new guy if he weren’t so distructive with toys, but probably not because they are hers. To me they always will be hers.

  • 4. manyofus1980  |  June 12, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    LT, theres nothing wrong in keeping their stuff. I think its very touching. I wish I’d kept my old guide dogs toys. When she went to a new home she took some with her and I dont know where the rest are. Dr Val is right about memories living in your head and heart though. XX

  • 5. Kim Appleby  |  June 12, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Don’t throw your pets things away. They are valuable to you and were once valuable to your pets. There are lots of lonely animals in shelters. You have so much love to give. Don’t try to replace your pets they are unique and irreplaceable. …but why not volunteer to walk or play and comfort a lonely dog or cat? You might feel you can pass on some stuff; but if you don’t; just let it be. But for goodness sake; get out there & hug a needy pet, no strings attached. They need it & you do too! They have had losses too and may share your pain.

  • 6. yoyoyoli  |  June 13, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Hi Lt! I really like Dr. Val and I am really glad you re-hired her;-) I agree with her that the memories are in your heart and always will be there! In your heart and in your head! So true! I totally get that you want to hang on to their items and you should…. We had a dog for 16 years, that passed away more then 30 years ago.. his leash still hangs on my parents’s coatrack in their hallway.. it is so cool..when I see it it does make me sad sometimes and miss him but most of the time it makes me smile.. smile of the fun memories and smile that it is still hanging there… for everybody to see, every day, I love that! Thanks for sharing and being open about this. And about the previous post/perceptions from the past I like when you wrote” I think sometimes I need to train my brain to challenge my almost always negative and fearful thoughts about how people perceive me.”… Wow..what a powerful statement. Print it and stick it on your fridge and read that every day and try to make baby steps to actually do it. You CAN Train your Brain! I love it.. There is a poem and song lyrics that go something like this: Dance like nobody’s Watching and sing like there’s nobody listening, and Love like you’ll never be hurt..and live like it’s heaven on earth.. also very powerful! I get that you want to stay safe and sometimes isolated and staying safe should be your # 1 priority. But I hope you do Dance now and then, Dance like nobody’s watching.. Thanks so much for sharing your life stories and thank you for your lessons please keep writing and teaching us!
    PS I like your boss too I am pretty sure he does not hate you.
    how is KC?

    • 7. allymanole  |  June 15, 2015 at 5:26 am

      Hi LT.
      What yoyoyoli said is true. Especially about your comment : ” I think sometimes I need to train my brain to challenge my almost always negative and fearful thoughts about how people perceive me.”
      This is such a huge step to even write it down. You are remarkable. If you don’t mind, I’ll cut myself a slice of that insight.
      Thank you LT.
      xxx ally

  • 8. raisingagodlyboy  |  June 13, 2015 at 12:20 am

    No one can destroy what is in your heart but if you find comfort in keeping your pets things I don’t see any harm.

  • 9. momma2abby  |  June 13, 2015 at 12:50 am

    I don’t think it is possible to get rid of their memories. Objects do resonate with us though. By that I mean they can mean more than we can find words to say. Personally though I think I’d get rid of the food and the litter box. The food will eventually go bad. The litter box isn’t really part of Harbor. It’s just a box Harbor needed. Kind of like if I kept my husband’s last roll of toilet paper. Maybe keep all the toys and maybe not. Maybe it depends on how many there are. What I’ve done over the years is keep the collars and the tags. Sometimes I hold onto a toy for awhile, but usually not permanently. These items are good reminders, but more items does not mean more or better memories. If you threw them all away you wouldn’t lose your memories. I’m sentimental like you are though. I do like having my old cat’s collar. I do like that I can read his name on it. He was a good cat.

  • 10. jnkmailacc  |  June 13, 2015 at 1:33 am

    That is so effing sad. These posts always make me hug the shit out of my foster kids. No one is ever burning their ribbon!

  • 11. DJ  |  June 13, 2015 at 1:34 am

    I don’t know about the throwing away theory. I wasn’t thrown away in my life by people, but I still have things from my beloved husky, Tara, that I haven’t been able to bring myself to get rid of. She’s been gone 3 years now, and I have her leash and collar, her food and water bowls, her doggy bed, her toys. Tossing them out, or even giving them away, feels like throwing away mementos or heirlooms (a dog bowl, seriously?!), but there you have it. We’re sentimental, and that’s okay.

  • 12. sageplant  |  June 13, 2015 at 1:57 am

    Your closer than you realize…very kind ways..

  • 13. Kimberly Williams  |  June 13, 2015 at 3:01 am

    You dont have to get rid of a thing ever for any one or any reason and you certainly dont have to justify keeping something either! You want to you need to so please do! The chicken will keep forever as long as it stays frozen no harm there at all. I have things from all my pets, toys collars half chewed bones, and even toenails and teeth they lost! Keep on keepin on LT and thank you just for being 🙂

  • 14. daleenc  |  June 13, 2015 at 5:19 am

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with being sentimental. My one aunt keeps EVERYTHING. But everything is really special to her and it makes her happy when she’s sad. Keep on goin’, LT.

  • 15. s00147954  |  June 13, 2015 at 5:23 am

    I too am glad you rehired Dr. Val. Do whatever feels right LT, if you don’t want to throw away things that are meaningful to you, you don’t have to 🙂

    I think most people have too many ‘things’ anyway. Peace xo

    P.s thanks for coming back to us LT, I’m really glad your’e still a part of our lives.

  • 16. Linka  |  June 13, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Good Morning LT! I have a whole trunk full of things from my past. every once in a while, I open the trunk, and take a journey back through time,. The things are roots-roots to who I WAS. They are part,too, of who I am now as well. I agree with the rest of the crew-no harm in keeping Harbor and Moonlight’s stuff. And not everything in my trunk holds pleasant memories, but those memories nonetheless are also part of me. Stay true to you, and do what you need to meet your need to remember.

    teaching a full day of foster care pre-service today. Attachment is one of the classes. I will be sharing your post today to help them understand better the importance of maintaining attachments…thank you for helping me teach them what they need to understand.

  • 17. lee1978  |  June 13, 2015 at 8:28 am

    I think it is fine to keep your pets belongings. I always did that too. One thing that helped my kids was I took their collar, a special toy or blanket or something like that and their picture and made a display of them. THey have these deep frames called shadow boxes that you can use for things like that. You can even put a can of food in if you want to.

  • 18. Rebecca  |  June 13, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Maybe you could consider keeping one or two of their things that are special to you. You could put their tags on a chain and wear them around your neck, that way you always have them close to your heart. If the rest of their stuff is still in usable shape, consider donating it to a pet rescue program, so that their memory is honored in helping other animals. Also I want you to know that I’m a foster parent and every child that comes to my home gets to take all their stuff with them when they leave including the stuff I bought for them.

  • 19. Kathy Moore  |  June 13, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Thank you for helping me understand more about how terrible life in foster care can be. You sound as if you are a loving, caring person despite the cruelty that you’ve experienced. I’ve lived a very fortunate life, but I find that keeping things helps me keep that deep connection to a loved one, whether it was a family member, friend, or pet. Tangibles help bring back the good memories. There’s something about touching and holding an object that someone else loved that keeps the love alive for me. Do what makes you feel loved and don’t worry about what others think. Harbor and Moonlight must have had wonderful lives with you!

  • 20. Anne  |  June 13, 2015 at 11:02 am

    I am so sad to read how you were treated in the foster care system. I appreciate you sharing to educate me on issues that trainings leave out.

  • 21. Foster Mom in Training  |  June 13, 2015 at 11:30 am


    My first dog as an adult was named Chico. He was AWESOME. He would bark at me and run around me in circles to get me to hurry up. He went everywhere with me in the car. He was my little buddy. When he passed away, I put his bowl up on a shelf in the kitchen. His ashes, his paw print, and the card I received from the vet after he passed are all up there, too. My second dog, Brandy, also passed away. I have her ashes, bowl, and card up there by Chico’s. I’ve contemplated burying their ashes and things in my backyard and planting a rose bush atop it. Or, I may bury their ashes and things at a pet cemetery. Do you know you can actually get a tombstone made for your pet?

    It’s not odd to want to honor your pets. I don’t want to throw away their things either. You are right, their things belonged to them. I want to honor their memory. When you are ready, you will know what to do. Don’t let anyone rush you or try to convince you otherwise. Mourn in your own time. Your feelings are valid.

  • 22. onemorewithus  |  June 13, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Hi babe!
    You wrote so beautifully. Almost like a poem, which is what your ‘stuff’ is. Your collection of things make for a life poem. They are perhaps odd to others but their meaning is so deep that they become priceless.
    LT, totally off subject. I have a question, maybe you can help me.
    My foster son has come a long way. He was severely traumatized and had very difficult behavior patterns. Lately he’s been progressing in therapy and has opened up so much… Maybe it’s because we are getting closer to adoption and he feels we are for real?
    But my puzzle is this, though he’s been progressing SO MUCH, for some reason he’s picking up on lying. Lying about the strangest things. “Did you get your backpack from the car?, “yes”… I go there and the backpack is in the car still.
    Why do you think he’s doing that? Is this a form of testing us?
    He’s been disclosing some significant things about his past, trusting us with huge matters, so I don’t understand why the overflow of small lies.
    Any tips or ideas on how to understand this?

    • 23. LooneyTunes  |  June 15, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      hey. im sorry you are having problems.
      i am totally no therapist.
      the only 2 things i could think of
      1) he is testing you
      2) he actually does not know he is doing it, especially since they are about strange things.

      i dunno. can you ask the therapist cause i bet she has a much better answer than me.

      • 24. onemorewithus  |  June 16, 2015 at 11:54 am

        LT, I think I figured it out. I think he lived his life having to have secrets for so long, and now he’s speaking of those secrets for the first time. It must feel scary to open up his heart that way. It must feel more natural to cover things up… So he does it for small little things. You may be right. He may not know he’s doing this…
        It is important to share this with his therapist for sure.

        • 25. LooneyTunes  |  June 16, 2015 at 2:04 pm

          i hope it gets better. the brain does so many strange things when effected by trauma.
          he’s lucky he’s getting a place with you! safety at last.

  • 26. Elise  |  June 13, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    What if you did something special to remember them by? Something that is a physical object reminder and a way of showing how much you cared? Like you could make memory boxes for each of them. You could get a special box of some sort for each of them, and then put in special things that remind you of each. Like a favorite toy of Moonlight’s, or a leaf or stick if she had a favorite bush or tree outside. You can put all of the special memories in there where they will be safe. Then you will always remember them.

  • 27. Connie Lettow  |  June 13, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    You are so sweet. You didn’t deserve to have your things taken or lost like that. You keep what matters most, unlike some who have things that make them seem rich or successful. You keep personal things that remind you of things that mean the most to you. I like that a lot.

  • 28. Pray for adoption 1  |  June 13, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    Reading your post has really helped me to understand my foster childs behavior. I thank you so much for sharing your life. I can’t imagine these horrible foster homes, you take a child in, you treat him/her as your own! That being said, we got our first foster child 7 months ago, went into it totally expecting it to be short term, what mother wouldn’t do everything possible to get her child back,right? Well, we have come to the realization that this will be long term , if not, permanent. We welcome the possibility of adoption with open arms! We fell in love with her from minute 1 ! I can’t imagine ever throwing her or her things away. All I want for her is to have the best life possible, even if it is without me, I will have to accept that (reunification). When she is acting out, severely, I tell her “no matter what you do, I’m going to stay right here and keep loving you, there is nothing that you can do to ever change that” . I pray that one day she will feel secure enough to believe this. I have given birth to two children and I wou have never thought about giving them away, and I won’t do that to her!

  • 29. ritalee8383  |  June 14, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    LT, Moonlight & Harbor weren’t throways and neither were you. You all found each other. That’s important and precious. Love is love & connections are connections. Hang onto their stuff as long as you need. I’ve hung onto things for fifty years and there is nothing wrong with that. I have my 6th grade safety patrol award because it was an affirmation in my life. Granted every kid got one in our class once a week but to me it was the FIRST affirmation that I remember so I kept it. I also have my acceptance letter into highschool because I couldn’t believe they accepted me!!! You hang on to anything that has touched your heart. There is nothing wrong with that.


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