The task is complete and the room is done.  What a job that was.  Unfortunately, coward that I am, I saved the most difficult stuff for last.  And it was hard.  We had seven photo boards on display at Kevin’s funeral.  Covered with pictures, rich with memories.  After the funeral they had leaned against the wall in that little room.  For the first few months after he died every now and then I would take one of the boards out and run my fingers over the pictures, trying to remember and feel him again.  Silly thing but it was an unconscious need on my part.

I was always the ‘touchy’ one in our relationship, and Kevin didn’t mind that at all.  He’d sit beside me and I’d rub his shoulders or hands or even his feet.  He’d go very still, afraid that if he moved I’d stop.  If one of our cats jumped up on the couch with us he’d know it was game over, I’d start patting the cat.  Kevin did alright though.  So perhaps that’s why I felt the need to touch those pictures, because that’s what I do.

They were the last, but the biggest, hurdle in that room.  Seven boards with 20 to 30 photos on each one.  I sat there and peeled those pictures off the mounting boards and cried the whole time.  It couldn’t be hurried, each one needed to be looked at before it went away.  It was, after all, my life too in each of those images; a way of living that died when he did.

One of the toughest realizations that has come out of Kevin’s death has to do with the extent of the impact on the family.  For those who had him as a friend, you mourn his loss, perhaps profoundly, but the exposure and interaction with him was different – not constant.  For me, and the family, that loss is boundless – that day the light in our lives dimmed, and  part of us retreated to the shadows.

I think about that statement, ‘larger than life.’  I’ve pondered over it more than once since Kevin died.  If anyone earned it, it was him.  He loved life and while he was here he lived it large. Those photo boards were a testimony to that.  They also were a painful reminder of how quickly life can change.


Round Two

This is about as gruelling as a boxing match.  I went in to finish it off but couldn’t land it.  It’s bloody awful picking through the remnants of a life.  Kevin was somewhat unique in that everything had a name, his clothes, his shoes, his belts, all were codified. He had his ‘playing’ shirts; his school tee-shirts; his favourite black tees; his ‘gigging’ jackets; his regular suspenders and his ‘fancy’ ones; his ‘city’ shoes and his country shoes and the mainstay – his go with anything black jeans.

So going into that closet and getting rid of anything feels like betrayal.  I pick it up, sniff it (if it has even the wisp of ‘his’ smell it stays), remember an occasion when he wore it, and then put it the undecided pile.  The undecided pile is significantly larger than the donate pile.  Then I have the mental anguish of figuring out whether the kids would want anything, and if so, what.

And what do I keep?  Do I keep the darn wedding boots?  That was the point of no return for me tonight, when I hit those boots.  He’d kept them since we married in 1984.  He would take them out every so often and put them on and tell me he hadn’t gained an ounce (on his feet) since the day we wed.  How the heck do I get rid of those? I think that I keep those until the day I die.

It’s exhausting.  And it has to be done.  So the undecided pile will be the focus for tomorrow, followed by the books he stashed away in there.  Some from his university days, some relating to his interest in art and music – books with his scratchy handwriting: critiquing, clarifying or challenging some point of genius he was interested in.  My love.  My loss.

Round three tomorrow and it should just about do me in.

It’s harder than imagined

Today I spent the day cleaning out a closet.  It was far harder than I expected.  I went though almost a box of tissues, and I still haven’t finished.  I will go at it again tomorrow, finish it in a haze of tears.

I was packing up Kevin’s things, trying to figure out what to keep, and really why to keep it.  It has to be done, not for any other reason than I am getting some work done on the house.  Survival techniques differ for everyone – for me, I couldn’t stay in our old bedroom.  I moved across the hallway, but the new room doesn’t have a bathroom.  I’m having that done, but it means tackling Kevin’s closet and going through his  stuff.  Not easy.

The thing is, almost everything we own, all the things we hold dear, become just ‘stuff’ after we are gone.  My house is crammed to the rafters with stuff.  Things that I will never touch for the rest of my life.  Books I will never read.  The things collected over 31 years of marriage.  It meant something at one time, but it doesn’t have the same pull for me anymore.  But to get rid of it?  It means opening up all the doors and windows in my brain, looking out and looking in.  Seeing things that were and are no longer.  Touching things that belonged to the person I loved.  Things he wore, wanted, played, read or listened to.  Missing him, desperately wishing life hadn’t been so cruel.

But really, life isn’t cruel, life just is.  It takes and it gives, indiscriminately.  It’s the fact that we are able to love, to feel joy, and consequently, to feel sorrow; that creates a painful longing for what is no more.  I wouldn’t change what I had, I just wish I had it longer.  It’s still just as complicated for me today as it was right after Kev died, my heart is still wrapped up in him.  Lucky and unlucky at the same time, that’s my lot.

18 months

So really what is time?  It can mean different things throughout life.  A year and a half has passed since Kevin died – sometimes it feels like yesterday, other times it feels like a totally different life.   I can recall some things so vividly, then there are others that I can’t –  I may try, but I can’t remember.  Then out of the blue when I least expect it I get hit with a wham!  Then it becomes a matter of managing the thoughts, not letting them overwhelm me. Saving the emotions for later, for private.

The summer has come to an end and it has been an eventful one.  My sister visited, cousins from England visited, my daughter and her family moved in, and before I knew it, the summer was gone.  Time passes.

As the season changes and it gets darker, it becomes easier to fall into feeling sad.  Once the snow flies and we all go into a human state of hibernation, I will do it again on my own – day after day, plod along. No one to play cribbage with or to hunker down on the couch and watch movies with – just me.  For a while I will have the kids around, but it’s not the same; nice – but not the same.  They will eventually move out, as they should, they need to find their forever home.

I may sound a little depressed, but I’m not.  I think I am a little more aware of everything that’s all.  It’s time to find some coping techniques, something to do, to be busy, maybe creative.  My world is not about to become rainbows and sunshine, but it doesn’t have to be a storm of emotions; it can be pleasant, however that looks.