Friday, August 26, 2011

melancholy bed linens

Written three years ago. 17 days after Jeff died...

I have been sitting in the rocking chair in my room for a period of time each day staring at our bed and crying. I am trying to muster up the courage to wash the sheets. I tell myself, "Jeff would laugh at this. He'd think I was being silly and sentimental. They are just sheets. They aren't him." But he slept there. There are 'Jeff germs' on them.

I 'saved' the sheets from the bed in the spare room because of the same reason. They are folded neatly, with his towel he used that morning, the clothes he passed in and the clothes I was wearing that day in my closet. Do I need to add the sheets from every bed in the house? No, but it is hard to do.

He slept with Olivia for a time the night before as well because she was crying. I'm having a hard time washing her sheets too.

I sit in the chair and tell myself, "You can do it. They should be washed. You have other things that Jeff touched too." Then I sit there and sob.

I usually wash the sheets once a week. It's driving me nuts....But I don't want to wash him away.

Everything that changes in the house takes me farther away from him. I have a hard time dusting because I heard that dust is made up of 85% skin cells....some of those cells are Jeff's.

I have a box of hair in my closet along with the clothes and sheets that I'm hoarding. The day he died, my sister and I scoured the house looking for hairs in the bed, the bathtub and on the floor. I didn't want to lose anymore of him.

Am I crazy? Please tell me that I should wash the sheets. Tell me it's okay. He would want me and the kids to be on clean sheets, right? I'm just being silly and sentimental, right?
I think I've lost it.


  1. Jackie, hugs to you, I am into nearly 10 months since I lost my Mike and am sleeping in the spare room because I do not want to wash the sheets nor the towel he used. I know Mike would say the same as your Jeff they are only sheets, but that is the only thing I can hold onto including the clothes he was wearing the day he left me suddenly. You are not crazy if you are so am I!

  2. 17 days out! Those days are a foggy dream. The pain was so intense.

  3. Thank you Jackie! I feel abnormal about most things I've done or not done in the 18 months since my husband passed suddenly. He had a sudden stroke in bed and before I could call dibs on the sheets, my helpful family members had them in the washing machine. I had done laundry that day but was able to find a shirt or two that hadn't been washed. I kept them unwashed for a very long time.

    Now, my comfort comes in lying on his side of the bed something else I couldn't do for a very long time.

    I refuse to accept the tag of "crazy". Conversely, I'll accept the tag of "survivor".

  4. I don't think any of us are crazy...13 months later I still have the pillowcase on his pillow that was there the day he passed away...I do cover it with a clean one when I change the sheets, but it gives me the chance to hold him close, even if it is only in my mind!

  5. I kept the clothes of his that were unwashed, the sheets he slept on, his toothbrush, I had a small pair of cuticle scissors in my purse and cut a few locks of his hair after he died.....anything I could find that he used. I couldn't wash my bathroom rug for a very long time.....its a way to cope. I am having a hard time moving on after 28 months...and I freely admit it. It will happen when I am ready. I no longer will worry about it.

  6. I am one year and ten months out. I've been painting my house including the woodwork. The other day as I was painting it, I was thinking how nice and clean it more fingerprints.....then in a flash I saw him framed in my bedroom door with his hands on the top of the door frame, talking to me....and I realized what I had just painted over. I know he would have thought I was being silly but it was a hard thing to get past.

  7. I haven't washed my beloved's eyeglasses since his passing 20 months ago; but the shirt he wore when he passed away I just don't want to touch it nor hold it because it reminded me of that tragic morning when he did not wake up in his sleep, the event that changed my life forever. I have kept some shirts that brings sweet memories (we spent one weekend in Cambria, CA & it became chilly so he took off his shirt (a nice Territory Ahead long-sleeved shirt--he kept his dark undershirt on, of course) and put it on me to keep me warm --he took a picture of me wearing that shirt)... there is one voice message on my cellphone that he left for me (plans for our wedding anniv) that I preserved, thanks to the provider, in a mpeg format/CD which I play everyday in the car on my drive to/from work....

  8. Today as I left work, I had a 'happy it's the weekend and the sun is shining.' while I walked to my car. I realized that It's certainly not as 'happy' as the feelings I used to get, but it's better than it was a year ago. I specifically remember leaving work every day and crying as I walked to my car a year ago. (It's 16 months for me.)
    I remember at that time not wanting to feel better. Feeling better was moving on. Moving on was moving away from Dave.
    "Everything that changes in the house takes me farther away from him." I specifically remember thinking that as things changed around me. I knew he was dead - I watched him die. But I didn't want to move on. For a long time.

    I remember sticking my head into Dave's closet repeatedly just to get another whiff of him. But eventually his smell faded.

    Writing all this has made me cry. :(

    So, Jackie. I'm assuming after three years you've washed those sheets!

  9. Oh count me in as being crazy. I had washed all the clothes the day before Greg died and ALL I had left were his pillow, the bedsheets and his PJs .... which are still sitting in a space bag with "his" smell ziplocked inside..... except for his pillow...I've never washed it and it stays in my (our) bed.
    His clothes from That Day??? Well, the morgue didn't give them back. I suspect there wasn't much left on them that wasn't ... umm... "destroyed" in the accident.
    Maybe I am crazy, but smelling *him* makes me feel safe and I wish I had more things that smelled right....

  10. A few weeks before my mom died I tape recorded a conversation with her. I wanted to be able to hear her voice after she was gone. When I went to listen a year later, I couldn't. The voice on the tape was her sick voice. The voice I remembered in my head was the voice I had grown up with.

  11. I still pay for his cell phone so that I can call it and hear his voice message. It just sits in a drawer but I have to be able to hear him. It's the only left that I really have of him. I don't know what happened to everything else. My kids did go through all of his stuff for themselves of which I'm happy. But i find that as time goes on (I'm 25 months out) I'm beginning to "forget" his voice, his smell, his touch unless I keep it alive in some way. I don't want that to happen. In a way I don't want to push past this because the more I start to heal the further away he seems to be.

  12. It once was difficult to let go of things my late husband touched. But it helped when to focus on the fact that he touched me and I would always have that. He touched me and that was the most important!
    There remains a soft cap he wore that I take a deep whiff of when I want his smell; I treasure it. His other stuff has mostly received new owners--things somehow become artifacts and letting things go has given freedom. I will miss him always; he was a wonderful man.

  13. I am 3 months in from losing my husband unexpectantly. I am lost, but taking it day by day. We don't have any children, but we have a dog that is feeling the sadness as well. I try to keep her on her daily routine. She is the only thing I have left, and cherish her more than anything. He loved that damn dog. ;)

    I have not moved Troy's shoes from the basement. And I am torn on this. It makes my heart ache every time I see them sitting there (since I come in from the garage at least twice a day at this spot). But on the flip side, I can't seem to pack them up. I have given some of his clothes to family members. But I have a real problem giving them to Goodwill merely because these people do not know my husband. I almost feel they wouldn't appreciate them, which is wrong because I know they would on so manyh other levels. I have a professional quilter working with about 75 of Troy's t-shirts, sweatshirts, work pants, etc. to make "Memory Quilts" for his Mom, Dad and myself and my Mom. That way I know we can treasure his stuff forever. This is about as close to freedom as I can do right now.

  14. I did the opposite. My husband died of cancer and I washed everything to get the smell of death off it. I do miss what he smelled like though and wish I hadn't washed some of his clothes. Chemo ruined his body chemistry so it is probably better than I just remember it.

  15. 18 months since I lost my husband to cancer.
    All of his things are still right where he left them. We were married 36 yrs. I just can't give away his things, I'm not ready. I too have the unwashed sheets and clothes neatly folded in my closet.

  16. I have only just washed the quilt cover that he died under - I threw the quilt itself - it smelt of death so I can understand where you are coming from DharmaDog - and I didn't want to be reminded of the cancer that mercilessly ripped us apart. I have kept his dirty jeans and I wear a lot of his t shirts and his jackets. It has helped tremendously up until now - but, to be honest, I have been anguished just lately because I get visions of him wearing the clothes and it just brings on the sadness each time. Maybe it is time to store them away. It is 4 months since I lost my Steve. I miss him so much. How on earth do you start again rebuilding a life which was devoted to one person? We were married 36 years. 57 is a strange age to be left on my own.