Thursday, November 3, 2011

the little things

I wore Jeff's work coat the other night - Halloween night. It was the first time I have worn it in the three years since he died. I haven't wanted it to lose any of his smell, cells or presence by donning it myself. But with it on, I felt warm, cuddled and protected from the cold Autumn wind biting at me as I followed the kids down a variety of driveways while they asked strangers for candy.
Although I could have used his coat many times in the snow or stacking wood in the days since his death, it has hung in his closet collecting dust and the smell contained within said closet.
Later in the evening after staying warm and dry wrapped in his jacket, I reaching in the pocket hoping to find a tissue to wipe Briar's chilly little nose. Instead, I found a slip of paper. Written on the paper in both my and his signature font was our last grocery list together. My bubbly and embarrassingly juvenile scrawl married with his fluid, grown-up handwriting.
I marveled at the thought of how unknowing and naive we both were while jotting down these items. I tried to remember the meal. I wondered what we had talked about and if we had eaten fish or chicken along with the green beans, mushrooms and basil.
It also made me realize how far away that life is now. How far I've come without him. And although I really, truly never thought that the vacuous minutia of everyday would ever slip back into my life, it has.
My grocery lists now only contain my print/writing with the occasional kid-written word "candy" or "juice". But I am still doing buying the groceries. I am still feeding our kids. I am still walking upright. And although I still live everyday missing him, I can keep part of him close. His coat, or his kids, or his memory. He is with me. In my heart. In my memory. In my closet.


  1. Thank you. Seeing my late spouse's handwriting is such an intimate reminder of him and makes me catch my breath every time I see it. A real trigger for tears. A warm fleece he had makes me feel cuddled and warm and is one of the few items of clothing that remain. I am wearing it to ward off the cold as I write this. :-) And a warm cap is kept in a sealed plastic bag so I can drink in the smell when I feel I need the comfort of him. But I really don't need these things, like your spouse, he is forever in my heart.
    We are lucky to feel this way I think.

  2. This was good, Jackie.
    And it brought back a flood of my own memories ....
    Something so simple .... can evoke so very much.

  3. Thank you Jackie!! I, too, find comfort in wearing my husband's jackets. When I find those handwritten notes, although the tears do come, I remind myself of his spiritual presence and that he is still watching over us!

  4. Thank you Jackie. Yes. The clothes and the notes! Last weekend I was digging through the winter hats and mitt baskets and saw all of Dave's winter toques. I've decided to start wearing one of them. He was a high school teacher and coached a variety of sports, including the hockey team. His hat has the school logo on the front and his/our last name on the back. Tomorrow is the Dave Richards Annual Ball Hockey tournament, and I think I'll wear that hat while I give my speech for the opening ceremonies!

    And the notes. I'm always so thankful to find little scraps of paper with his handwriting on them. They remind me that, "Yes, he was just here. Living with me. A part of my life." (After 16 months it's starting to feel like another life.)

  5. Thank you Jackie, this halloween was canceled and we were left in a cold house without heat or electricity. Three years into my new life and by day two without electricity I turned into a grieving mess of tears. It was helpful to wear His big thick socks - my 11 year old also lit up when I offered him a pair of his daddy's huge thick man socks. (I bought just about every pair in the draw over the 21 years we were together-never remembered a single pair until just then) I walk quickly past the mens department or the section in Costco where I used to spend time picking out just the right thick work socks and thick lined shirts he liked. If I did not walk fast the tears would breakout from behind my lids....
    I could of worn the socks any time during the last two winters. But they brought such comfort this year when Kyle and I really needed him to be here. Well at least we had those socks that proved he truly existed. When I shared with my husband's brother that one of my sons and I were wearing Duke's socks - all he could do was swallow hard to hold back the tears. The clothing and the occasional note seem to have been my most surprise oh I remember you feeling of my throat closing off with a big lump in it- did not see it coming - can not stop it moments of sheer grief.
    Notes: Funny how a handwritten shopping list note could be so utterly beautiful after you find it long forgotten and dusy years later behind a refridgerator that needed servicing. I hardly felt bad for the repair guy that had to pick me up off the floor when I found it. Well he did have his wife to go home to so not a lot of pity for him from me. thankfully it was a guy I got to know since he had been there twice before to fix the icemaker. First time he had bothered to pull it out from the wall- and check the back of it. Not sure if it was truly the lemon law or not but supposedly they are giving me a 1200.00 credit at sears towards a new fridge. Guess he had a good story to tell when he got back to the office and home to his wife. I treasure that note. It had poptarts written on it. We had long stopped buying them prior to his getting sick with cancer. So great to see the other items on it.

  6. I find it amazing that so many of us have the same thoughts and experiences in common: memories made fresh and comfort by clothes, scent, notes, personal objects...

    Also, in the garage, I see how my husband hung all of his tools so neatly organized on the wall...never touched since his passing.

    Around the house there are a few items still where he placed them. His coffee cup is still in the dish drainer a year later.

    I look at the wall pictures we hung together, and I am taken back in time to those moments.
    When I watch our collection of VHS and DVDs, I recall things we said about the movie or program.
    When I have to replace a light bulb, I recall that he was the last one who touched the bulb that just burned out.
    I sit by the pool and can easily remember our many enjoyable conversations.

    I see certain things that he never got to use, and clothes that he never got to wear...and that breaks my heart because it reminds me that his life was cut so short, especially at a time when he had the most to live for.

    Although he will ALWAYS be in my heart, and his many comforting and supportive words will always be in my memory...
    I chose to keep some of his worn clothes and all of his toiletries in the same place. He is gone, but I do not have to get rid of the tangible memories of him.