|(Yes, this is totally a picture of me, in case your curious....)|
I’m not angry. I’m not specifically unhappy, really. But I’m very, very dissatisfied with my life, and that dissatisfaction is driving change. So I’m pushing with all my might against that smothering bubble that is grief. This time, rather than being focused on what’s in my head or what’s in my heart, I’m focused squarely on what’s in my home. Excuse my directness, but I’m living in a home that’s not really mine and I’m done. It’s time for change. It’s past time for change.
For years (Years!? Really!?!? How can it be years?), I’ve opened up kitchen drawers with the best intentions, looked at the contents, sighed, and closed those drawers, not to be touched again for weeks - sometimes even years.
I’ve walked around Maggie’s clothes that haven’t moved since I last cried into them. I’ve kept my clothes on a spare bed because my chest of drawers is full of designer jeans that I don’t know what to do with. They looked great on her. But they are in the way of my future.
I’ve lived around pantry and cabinets full of dishes, kitchen tools, and mementos that represent a life I’m not allowed to live any more.
I’ve kept expensive dishes (our incomplete wedding china set) up on the top shelf, collecting dust because just what the heck do you do with wedding china when by death we did part? (Dear Abby, got an answer for that one?)
I’ve kept piles of various gifts given to Maggie because what the hell was I supposed to do with them?
I’ve avoided touching the nicely stacked piles of flyers given out at Maggie’s memorial. I’ve buried stacks of condolence cards way, way, way deep in the back of the Bookshelf of Painful Memories. Hidden throughout the house are stacks of photos from our wedding given to me from friends after she died, photos assembled specifically for the memorial service, photos assembled especially for our wedding video, and photos I’ve taken down in a fit of “Damn it! I’ve got to make some sort of progress! I’ll just take this down and hide it!” (I call those little glorious, proud moments “progress seizures” which may, or may not, be followed immediately with a shot of tequila, a large beer or other assorted bad choices.)
I’ve pushed hard before and made some minor progress. But this house is big and over the 10 years she and I were together, we accumulated a lot of stuff and, frankly, I’m flat out overwhelmed. (At the rate I’m going, I’ll totally have my life together around 2035, just in time for time travel to be in vogue. Now, don’t get me started about the very first trip I’ll be taking in that time machine. It will not be a trip to tell the 1994 me to buy Dell stock.)
Pushing hard sucks. But this time I’m doing things differently – I’ve called in reinforcements. I’ve hired a friend to help. She’s a good friend of mine, is friends with many of Maggie’s friends, and knows (and is deeply touched by) our story. She’s also a tender, thoughtful, sincere, genuinely sweet person who truly understands both how difficult this is for me, what role she plays and what the big goal is (and recognizes when those three ideals collide.) Fortunately, she’s also a manic, Type A, anti-hording, neat freak that knows how to problem solve and get things done. Together, we make a great cleaning-out, re-organizing, crying machine.
For our first big push, she suggested a genius plan. For everything, choose one: A) Throw it away, B) Give it a new life somewhere else, or C) Keep it in a special box. It’s amazing how much progress we’ve made just placing things into those three categories. Notably, it’s also amazing how few things went into the special box. Most of the stuff has fit perfectly into the New Life category. And, because she is wonderful and sensitive, she reminded me each timed I stumbled emotionally, that wonderful things deserve wonderful lives, even after they’ve had wonderful lives with Maggie and me.
I like to think that those re-lifed items are blessed, even though the unknowing recipients have no hint at how much love surrounded that shiny new object they’ve welcomed into their lives. In some ways, Maggie and I are sharing the aura of our love with them, whether they know it or not. Now, that’s pretty cool. We had a lot of love, she and me - more than most, I’ve learned. Maggie was a person who truly wanted to make the world a better place. So, by letting the things she loved find new, happy homes, she lives on. In pushing through this difficult time to my new life, I honor her legacy.
Most of all, I honor her legacy by refusing to live any life other than that which is wonderful to me. I have a lot of work to go. I will not quit. Wonderful is around the bend.