I’ve slowly been taking things out of Vance’s side of the closet for a while.
His new work clothes were easy. I got rid of those right away. He’d gotten a clothing allowance from work that had kicked in just a few months before his heart attack. The clothes were all special fabric for electricians and very expensive. I didn’t want to just donate them and take the chance that someone would take them, not knowing what they were. So I gave the box to a friend who worked with Vance and asked him to give them someone who didn’t get a clothing allowance but could use them. That was a no brainer for me.
But the rest of the closet….yeah, not so much. So it’s mostly just sat there. Day after day, night after night, collecting dust and holding memories. There were a few days when I’d throw out a really old shirt or a pair of socks with holes in the heels but there’s still so much to tackle.
Today was a good day and so I thought I would be able to take a few more things out and be okay. I don’t what made me think that. As soon as I reached out for the first pair of jeans, I went from good to a sobbing puddle of tears on the floor in front of the closet. Just like that. Boom. Uncontrollable sobbing.
Then a friend texted me, “How are you?” I told him what I was doing. I love that he didn’t try to make it okay. He just told me that it must be really hard.
A few minutes later another friend sent, “Been thinking about you a lot today, friend.” It blows my mind that God knew to put me on their hearts at that moment. Because even though two of my kids were in the house with me, at that moment I felt so alone. Then the phone buzzed and I wasn’t alone. I didn’t have to even make the first move and not one, but two, great friends were there for me. Praying for me. Lamenting with me.
It didn’t make me stop crying. In fact, I bawled for hours today. Hours.
Sometimes that’s just how grief works. You’re good…until you’re not. You think, “I’ve got this. I’ve finally got a grip on some of these emotions. Today just might be the day I don’t cry.” And then -BOOM! You’re frozen. Weeping while you stare at his work boots in the bottom of the closet, remembering how excited you both were when his job paid for that new pair and knowing there will never be another new pair of his boots in anyone’s closet, ever.
Today I threw out his underwear. I mean, you can’t really donate used underwear anywhere and it’s not exactly the item of clothing you want to hold and sniff while you’re crying. Even with that, it was still harder than you might expect. I mean, it took 80 days to throw them out.
I managed to throw out the swim trunks we’d bought for our honeymoon, 20 years ago. The jeans made it into a tote and I’ll deal with them later. The rest? Still there, waiting for another day. Another day when I’m strong enough to make it through. Another day that might come tomorrow, next week, next year, or the day my kids move me into the nursing home. Who knows?