When Is It Time to Let Go

When Is It Time To Let Go

When I was young, I was certain that I was in love.  It felt like love, and it is often the tender beginnings of what we assume will lead to a lifelong love and the feelings of which we wish would last forever.  Those feelings of elation and hope and promise which one seeks to capture and hold in hopes that things will never change.  I would have wrapped up those days of my youth in plastic if only to preserve the snapshots and memories in my mind, and perhaps to gaze upon that particular time whenever a certain unidentifiable smell brought be back to those memories.

What did I know?  I thought that I had met the love of my life during the summer of 1996; I was 16.  I still remember laying in the green grass staring up at a picture-perfect deep blue sky next to the girl I thought for sure I would one day marry, completely unaware or in total denial of the reality that plans made during ones childhood rarely come to pass, especially those of romantic relationships.

We parted and went our own separate ways for awhile.  I didn’t see her again until I graduated high school, though throughout our almost two-year separation we had exchanged many letters and phone calls.  When we were finally reunited, we had both changed drastically.  Our life plans had come full-circle, focused, and crystal clear, and it was obvious that we wished to pursue completely different paths in life.

Farm Machine

“Men marry women hoping that the won’t change; women marry men hoping they will.”


When is it time to let go?  It has been decades since I we said goodbye and parted ways forever.  We have since become casual friends on Facebook, though it has been years since we talked to one another.

Throughout my life, I have always taken notes about the things I found to be most important, and as such, became the historian by default for those closest to me.  I seem to remember things others often forget, filling in the forgotten details in subsequent facets of communication as if I were narrating a movie in which I were cast as the main character.

Thomas Slatin & Harvey Slatin - Chazy, NY

When my father passed away, he took with him all the memories of his life.  He had become so caught-up with his daily life, his work, and his documented scientific accomplishments that he had neglected to document the details which were most important.  His life and the human experience, the memories and measurable milestones of my childhood, details he neglected to write down.

Although my father mastered documentation, all that remains are thousands of photographs taken over the years.  Many were taken of me, some were taken with my mother in the same frame, very few featured my father.  Hundreds were taken of people my father once knew years ago; hundreds of faces without names, precious and irreplaceable memories now lost forever with nobody around to put faces to names despite almost incessantly pleading my father to do so during the last years of his life.

When is it time to let go?  When is it time to let go of the past, the memories, the emotions, and the stories?

The header image was taken from the Slatin family archives; the text was added to the image using Canva.  The fonts used are Montserrat and Kite One.  This post was inspired by Matter Of Time by Vanessa Carlton, and Fade Into You by Mazzy Star.

6th Grade, And Other Mishaps | I Used To Be A Habitual Trespasser | The Archives Of My Mind | Seeing old friends.


  • Amy

    Hi Tom!
    Good piece! The truth is: this is a very complex question. I am the documentarian and historian in my family, and I will never let go of the obsession to know more about our history and our ancestors’ vast legacies.
    However, when it comes to friendships, there have been a few pivotal ones I had to walk away from. Letting go sometimes serves to save your heart a world of pain.
    Very thought provoking!

    • Thomas

      Amy, I have this habit of holding onto relationships for life, even when some of them become toxic for my well being. As for the toxic or even parasitic variety, it takes me way too long in my opinion to simply let go. I don’t really understand why I do this.

      • Amy

        Because you have a huge heart. I was not able to do so until a couple of years ago for the same reason. I had to learn to cushion my heart. 🙂

  • Dick Woodhouse

    Never forget. The love and the memories are priceless, and they are yours alone.
    Give them shelter and protect them.
    The day will come when you’ll not remember what you had for breakfast, but…
    you WILL remember in accurate detail events from decades prior.

    I might add, you chose your parents well. Nice work, Thomas!

    • Thomas

      When it comes to my life and the human experience, I wish to document and preserve it to the best of my ability. As previously mentioned, my father died before he was able to document and/or share these priceless details with me. He decided to write a novel instead, which I encouraged him to postpone until he had put into words that which truly mattered.

  • Marge Gonzalez

    Hi Thomas. I knew you when you were that little boy! My daughter Tammy was your friend at Friends. I was thinking about you and your family, and I’m happy to see all your creative projects. Tammy and her 15 year old son live with me in Florida. My sympathy about your father’s death. Hope your mom is doing well.

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