One of the most significant milestones for those who find themselves widowed is dealing with the items that belonged to your spouse, or significant other. Some people handle that task soon after the death of their partner, others wait for months, if not years, before they can bring themselves to do it.
Closets. Armoires. Desks. Basements. Garages. In these hidden places we are often confronted with items of which we can not even identify, especially if you had a husband like mine who was adept at acquiring all kinds of devices, tools, and so many things I can’t begin to identify. Perhaps I will begin to post them on Social Media seeking answers. Maybe they might have some value to someone.
About six month’s after Rich’s passing, I decided to donate most of his clothing to local charities. The Salvation Army in particular was terrific to work with taking mostly everything I brought in. It was so difficult. I rode around for weeks with those belongings in the back of my car, unable to part with them. I knew Rich would be pleased to see someone enjoying life in his former worldly belongings.
Rich was a talented decoy carver and woodworker. I have stored many of his ducks and shorebirds, crafted by him and some prominent carvers, but much of his collection remains prominently displayed in our home. I am planning to contact a local arts center or wood working club to see if they’d like some of his carving supplies.
Recently, I opened long-stored boxes containing Rich’s beloved Lionel train collection. I recall before we’d moved he’d sold a good portion of it, but now I’m in the process of doing inventory, using a guide and ebay listings to price items. Rich loved those trains. Back up in New Jersey he’d build a track around our Christmas tree each December. The trains would typically derail usually do to canine interference. When we moved to a larger home in Georgia, Rich used the extra garage for his holiday display, even asking me to paint a mountain landscape as a backdrop to his Lionel Train Village.
These major steps of taking inventory require tremendous amounts of emotional energy. But, sometimes these items hidden in boxes and containers are just taking up space in more ways than one. At the same time we are also acknowledging the relevance and need for creating new space, albeit slowly.
Some people can no longer remain in a home that they’d shared with their partner. I’ve not had that experience so far, but I understand it. We made this house our home and now I’m making some small changes. I think Rich would like what is being done and feel his encouraging energy daily.
When we go digging through archives, we’re sometimes presented with bittersweet memories. Today, going through a pile of letters I found one I’d written to Rich a year before we got married. I’d gone to Boulder, Colorado, with my sister, Manette and her son, Zac. Back in 1972-73 my family resided in Boulder and Manette and I wanted to revisit in 1995. Rich had driven us to and from Newark Airport and I’d written to thank him and say I was missing him.
Then it struck me hard that none of these people were still here with me. My sister passed in March 2018 at age 57 and her son just this past May at age 39. In the late 80s, I’d moved from NYC and lived with my sister and Zac for a few years. He was the son I never had. All of them, including Rich, should be here enjoying life with me in my new location. Zac managed to spend some time here, but not his mom of course. She would have loved the natural beauty here and the tennis courts and pool. We would’ve had a lot of fun here doing the things we love.
People like to say that they are with us in spirit. No doubt, they are, sometimes literally. But it isn’t the same. These days I spend a lot of time looking after my parents who now reside just an hour or so south of here in an Assisted Living Facility. I know they miss the presence of family as much if not more than I. I’m fortunate to have forged a new life here in Georgia with many new friends while retaining many long-term friendships developed over the years with so many. It helps.
During the next few weeks I will continue to inventory Rich’s belongings and forge ahead with home and life improvement projects one room at a time. It’s a daunting process, however, I will prevail. As I get myself back on track, I will rely on building confidence and trust in the universe to fuel my engines and keep moving forward, especially during the inevitable derailments that I’m sure to encounter. They will just be temporary bumps in The Track.