Yesterday Audrey and I bought big bins for your clothes. She chose the color orange, which in retrospect, I’ve been a bit unhappy with since it’s more like a neon orange and the black handles make me think of Halloween- but I just didn’t want a dark, unhappy color for your clothing. I thought it’d look too foreboding and sad every time I glanced up at it in the closet. Now it will look bright and Halloweeny. Oh well.
After Audrey was asleep, I took your shirts and suits and pants out of our closet one by one, smelling each one. It is amazing that your clothes can still smell so strongly of you, or do I have some kind of sense for them that others would not have? I neatly fold up your shirts, picturing you in each one for some event, or freshly showered, buttoning up your shirt, flinging your wet hair behind your face. After a short reprieve, I tackle your dresser drawers. I try to tell myself that I’m just decluttering- getting rid of a few things of yours as I would have every fall, but I also sense a clearing in my processing – that no, you are really not going to come home and wear these clothes. I also try to tell myself that these are just clothes- that you made them so- but still, I will keep them in these bins in our closet and take them with me when I move. I had posted a brief summary of my Saturday night events on one of the widow boards on Facebook and was imagining these widows, who are mostly further along than I am, responding with support and understanding- but what I found was that most of them have not done this yet. “I’m at two years- I need to think about doing this.” “I’m at 23 months- I just can’t bring myself to do that.” I worry then that I am having too easy of a time doing this horrid thing- I feel uneasy- that you might suddenly come in and ask me what I’m doing with all of your clothes…but mostly- I need the room. My own clothes have been strewn on a chair for the whole year and I’m tired of it. That’s been the summation of my grief process I suppose- going at my own pace, waiting…and waiting…until I can’t stand it anymore- and finally, it’s a relief to do it- change my bedsheet, put away the quilt, wash your towel, take your clothes out of the laundry bin, and now- pack up your wardrobe.
I leave a few things for myself in an otherwise empty drawer- I can wear most of your socks, a few t-shirts, and your Korean soccer jersey.
The other day Audrey was looking for some glitter she sprinkled on her “fairy house” in the flower box. “The glitter that I put here died,” she tells me. After confirming her word choice, I realize that for her, the word “die” really just means disappear. All she knows is that you went away and never came back. I wish it was just that- disappearance. But sometimes it really does feel that way. I smell your clothes; I listen to your voice notes on your iphone, and I stare at your desk in the corner and your empty cello case, and it really does seem that you have done just that. Disappeared.
Audrey turns three on Tuesday and I intentionally wanted to push forward for her sake- because she has her whole life ahead of her and should not live with her dead father’s clothes still in his drawer or a mother who cannot take them out. A sort of sacrifice went on in this room last night. The incense was the smell of you- which filled the whole room by the time I was done. The act was done to the sound of empty wooden hangers hitting against one another like wind chimes or a somber Gregorian chant. It was appropriate but chilling how they went on and on.