Thursday, July 23, 2009

it's time....i think

If you had asked me before last weekend when I'd start moving out some of Jeff's stuff, I would have said, "Never....Or maybe in a year or so." But bouyed by the strength and support from other widows met and spoken to about this subject, I feel capable of doing this. At least some of it.
The stress and pain I feel about the removal of Jeff's things is that it feels as if I am removing 'him' from my home. That I am discarding him and our life together. That it will be thought that I am getting rid of him. But NO! I want to cling to him, hold as much of him as I can to us and not let go. Although I know that quite literally he is not his stuff, telling my emotional side this is close to impossible.
I, also, quite irrationally worry that he may need his socks...or his lobster claw lamp...or his 'hat tree'....
So, I am going to start small. My sister is coming over this evening to help me. Jeff had close to 600 videos. Since he has died, I have not even watched one. His addiction to buying DVDs was always a source of annoyance for me. I knew he watched them while at sea, but the accumulation of the media took up space and cost a small fortune.
I am nervous. I am going to try to be methodical and unemotional. I am hoping that many of his things can go to people who loved him and will know just how important all of his stuff is *smirk* but I know that it is possible that things like his bottle cap collection will end up unappreciated....which in turn may make it impossible for me to remove from my home in the near future. It's not that I love the copious amounts of yogourt containers with bottle caps (the man was a bit of a pack rat, people), it's that I love him so intensely that it hurts me to think that no one else will see the love he had for such crap. Crazy?
Anyhow, I am trying to keep my eye on the prize. Space. A job that is inevitable that is started and that much closer to completion. A sign of healing and acceptance.
Yesterday, I spent some time on the phone with some of my rockstar widda friends looking for tips that will ease the pain of the task:
1. Don't do it alone.
2. Start small.
3. Get that someone else to take the things away - seeing them land in a heap at the local Sally Ann could cause me to frantically clutch everything to my chest while screaming, "You bastards!!!! You don't know what this is!!!! You don't deserve it!!!" and sprinting away with plastic Stanley Cups and large tinfoil balls falling from the pile as I run....
4. Try to think of the good things that will come from this -, etc.
5. Give myself a pat on the back and a drink in the hand for a hard job well done.

And, just for anyone who may think it, I am not sending 'Jeff' away. He is still held so dear to my heart. I would cling to him and bury my face into his chest and cry that he was not allowed to leave me if I could. I would tell him that I will love him for all eternity. I would tie myself to him to prevent our seperation by death. But I can't. I need to crawl an inch forward....and unfortunately, his five pairs of gumboots are blocking the way.


Jill said...

Celebrate all of the steps, even if they are little. You should receive a little booster of support/strength from me soon, cuz' I just sent some your way. And you don't need to explain to any of us that you aren't sending Jeff away -- we know that -- make sure you remember that too and don't feel guilty.

Anonymous said...

All my husband's things were boxed up in the basement for over a year after he died and for more than two years since he'd had to go into a nursing home because I couldn't care for him any longer on my own. Letting the things go takes time and no explanations are necessary for the time frame.

Poppy and Mei said...


AndreaRenee said...

Oh honey, I'm thinking of you... (((BIG HUGS)))) Ditto Jill and Annie - everyone has their own time frame and method. I talked to Matt the whole time I cleared his stuff out of my closet. Told him I hate that I'm doing this, and that just because I'm taking his things out of there doesn't mean I don't love him, etc... I moved them downstairs, and the next step for me now is to let them go altogether. That will be next month. I'm still keeping some of his stuff, though. Small steps... XOXO
Friends for life, my dear! <3

Janine (txmomx6) said...

Thinking of you ..... and so glad that we were able to meet this weekend!!!

Anonymous said...

No matter how small the items you are clearing seem - it is a big step and you definately deserve a pat on the back (and drink or two) for finding the strength even to begin such a task.
As for the caps - perhaps they could be turned into some sort of crafty/art piece??? Or, you could line them all up and take a photo, then just save a handful perhaps? I know of a woman who saved some of her husbands favorite clothes to make quilts for her kids a few years down the road. Not that a bottle cap quilt would be very comfortable . . . but it's a thought to try give 'new life' to the really special pieces, while still creating space. I don't know if you were looking for suggestions exactly - it just popped into mind. But, it's not crazy at all to want to keep them as is either.
I don't know when I'll be ready for the task myself - not for some time yet I think - I guess you just 'know' when it's right. I already feel the kitchen will be one of the hardest areas (and I really don't think a 'pots and pans' quilt will work .. . )
Best of luck,

Crash Course Widow said...

Another thought: Take pictures of the more meaningful stuff (since you're a bit of a camera whore too ;o)). That way you have a record of some of it, and you won't have to remember what movies he had.

I still have a number of Charley's things--at this point it's tough to say if I've kept or given away half or more of his stuff--and over time, most of it has just become "stuff." Some of it's important to me, but not much. I've kept a lot of stuff for Anna, just in case or when she wants something physical, tangible of her father's to hold, touch, see. But it's all in boxes in the garage for the most part (real sentimental, eh?). But I constantly wonder with things like his CDs, his books, his movies, what I should keep "just in case" Anna will get more out of thumbing through the contents (and watching/reading/listening to it) than she would reading a catalogued list that I jotted down or hearing what few titles I remembered her dad liking or owning. I've never come to any big illumination about it, so I keep it.

But you're right--the sheer volume gets overwhelming. Sometimes it just gets too hard to keep moving forward with our lives with so much STUFF still lying around. And culling through Jeff's things doesn't mean you're "letting go" or getting rid of him or that you're throwing him away. I know you know that; just wanted you to READ it, in case "hearing" it out of someone else's lips sounds better. ;o)

You're the one who decides the timeline, and how much, and when. There is no right or wrong here.

Hugs!! =)

Hawkfeather said...

I second the sentiment that you don't have to explain to *us*...

The last thing I could imagine is that ANYONE reading these words you share may walk away thinking you could or would send Jeff away.

really rather the opposite.

A thought I had- it really never had to be all or nothing did it?

Sure these may seem like baby steps- but steps forward are just that- and not to be seen as leaving anything "behind".. or even moving away from.. but more so- what you are moving with- and shifting into.
a baby step through a gallon of hot molasses is still monumental-

Within that -all or nothing- thought I am left to think- maybe there is room for steps within steps..?
maybe you are not ready to part with something- but perhaps that thing may have another use?.. maybe even something to celebrate and honor Jeff..
heck five gumboots...ten planters?

I am not sure and i wonder if anyone could be sure- what would be a trigger- but maybe sorting through things like bottle caps- to find a treasured *few* to cherish might feel different than parting with every yogurt container in full?
Heck- send me some if you want- I would happily make some garden art for you.

There are always people out there who will appreciate the meaning behind any of these items-
and some who may not *know* but may find profound benefit-
movies like that- woman's shelter- even a hospital might appreciate.

I dunno- steps within steps might just add more dragging out of an already painful process??

While this struggle is obvious in it's intensity and depth- the need to face it is also very understandable.

What a gift- to learn from those around you who have personal insight- and may find something positive in knowing these heart wrenching experiences from their own lives may be useful in the healing path of another.

word verification= "incho"

as in- one inch-o at a time-o.

Hallie said...

I know that my "story" is by no way the same as yours but thought it might help you to think of how much someone else might feel about getting things from you...My grandmother is in the early stages of Alzheimers and we are trying everything we can to keep her mind fresh by keeping her stocked with word books, reading books, card games and puzzles so I put it out on our local freecycle group that I was looking for puzzles for her. I got an email the next day that a couple had a "stack" of puzzles I was welcome to have....When I went to get them, it was more than a stack...46 puzzles to be exact! The womans mother had passed away over a year ago and her dad was just starting to clean out her things. He wanted to start small and told his daughter to start with her puzzle collection! He had just told her this a day before I posted my ad. I was so taken back but this good deed and cried on the way home...perhaps it will keep my grandmother's mind open for just a bit longer and keep her with us just that much longer...perhaps your collection of yogurt ocntainers could come in handy for school projects at a school or nursing home or the dvds at a veterans hospital...stay'll be even stronger with more space! :) Hugs to you!

Jen said...

Here's to inching forward! Good for you for recognizing an opportunity, and take as small or big steps as feels right. I love the guidance -- wish I had known not to be the one to dispose of my husband's stuff. His work clothes went to the VA Hospital, and I was glad in theory to support them, but man it broke my heart into a thousand pieces to leave a large part of his presence in that little donation room and walk away...

caela said...

My dad died a little less than 3 years ago and although we've given away most of his stuff, there are a pair of his shoes that still sit by the back door. I have no idea why we haven't at least put them away, but in some ways it's comforting to see them sitting there every day. When my mom decided it was time to do something with his things, we did throw some stuff away, but most of it went to family and friends who could use it, and some of it is still around. Whatever you do, just make sure you're ok with it! If there's something that you're not ready to let go of yet, that's just fine!!!

Lori said...

So, did the conference help make this resolution? Regardless, I'm happy that you had the opportunity to find a group of women who share in your experience.
I'm a bit of a sentimental pack rat as well. My tip for purging is- do it often. What you might not be ready to get rid of now- give it 6 months, revisit it, and maybe you've adjusted to the idea of getting rid of it.
And sweetheart, sell those DVD's and make some $. No shit that's some cash. Have a good weekend and keep on keeping on. You sound a bit happier = )

Mel said...

I am so very proud of you, happy that you called, and delighted that I could help.

I'll be thinking of you all weekend, wondering how you're progressing, and checking the blog to find out.

You can do it. One step at a time. We are all here with you.


Anonymous said...

i'm always amazed by your strength...AND your ability to write about it wish such grace.