Time to clear out the clutter after the death of my husband. Maybe do some organizing. It’s easier than dieting and exercise. So I think.
Going through the stuff is daunting. I put it off and then put it off again. My husband’s stuff stayed where it was and I tried not to think about it for a long time. I have not really accepted that I am a widow and that Mike will not want or need these items anymore.
I went through my closet and got rid of clothes that no longer fit or that I just don’t wear. I put them in big black bags to place at the end of the driveway for pick up from whichever group gave me the flyer this month. Throwing a few of Mike’s things in the big black bag was an easy way to start. Not all of his clothes, just a few items at a time.
I saved a few pieces thinking my sons may want to wear them. They probably will not want them.
This fall, I moved some of my summer clothes and shoes into his closet. It took me 15 months but I think I am beginning to “acknowledge” the fact that he will not be coming home. It was always hard for me to think that I had to accept it. His death was unexpected and tragic. But I do acknowledge that it happened and that he will not be coming back.
So as I was considering sorting and tossing some excessive holiday decorations and maybe giving away even more clothes and stuff, I came across an old cardboard box that had my handwriting on the outside stating “old letters”.
Now, I had avoided the Christmas tree because I thought the ornaments would trigger a major traumatic episode. I managed this year’s holiday season without a breakdown so I thought I would take a peek at this box.
Immediately I thought of an old card that Mike had given me when in our early dating years we had “taken a break”. I remembered the quote he wrote in a card, and discovered after he passed, that it was the words to a song. I wanted to find that card with his handwriting on it.
Well, there was a lot of history to be found in that forgotten “old letters” box. My high school and college graduation caps and tassels were in the box. My awards from playing the clarinet in solo festivals and other certificates were in the box. I have journals from high school and college, all pre-Mike. Wow, what a different girl was writing those sad, boy-crazed entries. I can definitely appreciate the impact he had on my life after skimming through those.
I found pen pal letters from friends who lived in Australia, Sweden, and England! The letters from overseas were thin and had air mail stamps on them. I had envelopes with funny notes from high school friends who wrote to me when I was away at college. I found notebook paper notes from a high school best friend shaped into a triangle that we could have used to play that football game where you flick the paper triangle over the goal. Score! The effort we went through to communicate with each other before cell phones and the internet is astounding!
Finally, I found what I had opened the box to find. Mike did send me some cards which I had saved, but the song wasn’t written in a card. He had actually written me a letter. In fact, I found 3 handwritten letters in the box from him.
After we got engaged in California, he took a job as a prison guard for the Department of Corrections in California. He had to undergo 6 weeks of training in Galt, CA. This was about a 7-hour drive from San Diego so I did not see him during that time as I was working at a hotel in Coronado, CA.
I had forgotten about this, but he sent me at least 2 handwritten letters from Galt. I didn’t cry when I read them. I was filled with joy at seeing his handwriting, hearing his voice, and imagining him writing those letters to me back when he was 25 years old. I feel blessed that I found them. It is so sad that people today will probably not have love letters to save forever like my generation did.
I am grateful every day to have had him in my life. I can’t let myself dwell on the fact that he is gone. I like to focus on the fact that we had it good. We were one of the lucky ones.
Sometimes joy is found more in an everyday moment than in those big vacations that we spend so much time and money working for.