A breeze lifts the curtains, allowing a hint of sun to pierce the darkness. Another day begun. It seemed like only moments ago I finally drifted off to sleep, my tear-stained pillow still damp with yesterday’s trials. Last night’s dreams are no match for the harsh light of day though. The cold pillow beside me is enough to bring it all back.
The sheets are still tucked on your side of the bed, just as your clothes still hang limp in the closet. I can’t help but take it all in. A lone bottle of cologne clings to the corner of the dresser. Your housecoat is my shrine that I bury my face in when unbidden tears threaten again. I can’t turn back the clock. I cannot change the fact that you’re gone. But I still can’t come to grips with the fact that you won’t ever walk in the door and fill my world once more. It’s a nightmare I can’t wake up from.
Yesterday, Louise gently tried to suggest it was time.
“Let’s go through the closet Mum,” she said. “Give you some closure… ”
I don’t want closure. I don’t want to let you go, even though you left me. How could I not wash your towel, buy your pickles (that I never liked), or pick up the latest copy of ‘Field and Stream’? That was our life! A routine we stuck to that I’m not ready to abandon. Never mind yet. I’m not sure about ever…
People don’t get that you’re still here, still with me. I can’t let you down, leave you behind. So when the lady at the grocery asks if I want my regular two scratch tickets—one for me, one for you—the answer is always “of course”.
“Dad’s mags are starting to pile up Mum,” Louise states. “Maybe we could empty the pantry of some of the things you don’t use anymore? His cookies and hot sauce?”
These are things I don’t use or like, but are a piece of you that I can still touch, still hold onto. Just like the scent that lingers in your robe or your easy chair. No one is allowed to sit there, by the way. They might contaminate your scent with their own. And then I would lose even this last piece of you.
“It’s been six months!”
“You haven’t emptied his workshop.”
“The grass is getting away on you and the neighbours are starting to grumble.”
I can’t. It might always be too much for me, but I still don’t feel ready. There’s too much. And not enough. I don’t remember what it’s like not to be a ‘we’ or ‘us’. But now it’s all about ME and I’m overwhelmed.
And as much as Louise thinks she would be a great help, I know better. I would turn my back for a moment and it would ALL be gone, every shirt, shoe, and scrap of you. She’s got a house full of bodies at her place, so she doesn’t understand the loneliness that suffocates me. Just seeing your toolbox beside the dryer reminds me of you and then I’m not as alone any more.
Now Phyllis would have understood, God rest her soul. She lived alone for almost 20 years and still had Bob’s stuff cluttering her space. Though I did sometimes wonder why she didn’t empty the closet to make more room for her winter coat in the summer months. And clear a spot for shoes. Lord how she loved shoes that woman!
. . .
“Can you hear me Carl? I know we speak every day, but I think there’s something I’ve got to do and I don’t want you to get mad. There was a man on the corner yesterday wearing a ratty old coat and I couldn’t help but think of all the coats you have hanging in the closet unused. There is so much of you everywhere, but maybe it is time I let some of you go… ”
“I don’t need stuff to hold you in my heart. I know that, but I struggle. You’ll always be there and it breaks my heart that I can’t hold your hand while I say this. But I do need a hand now.”
“I can’t do it alone, but I think I might know who can help. I was behind a bus recently and saw an advert for a junk removal company. It said ‘donate, recycle, dispose’. Maybe if I called them up, your stuff would go to someone who needs it? Someone who can use it still, instead of getting moth-eaten in the closet. Not everything, but stuff that could still find worth in someone else’s hands. And the timing seemed to be a sign from you. The name of the company was an expression you used all the time—Load of Rubbish!”
“So. Please don’t be mad. I need your strength to go through with it, but I’m going to call them today. For me. For Louise. So I don’t end up like sad old Phyllis pining away for a dead husband for the rest of my life. Something tells me you wouldn’t want me to. Your stuff is not you. I know that. I just needed time. But your memories will not disappear with your knickers. It’s time.”
Estate Cleanups After Grief
We know that people reach that time at different points. Grief has a timeline that is highly personal and cannot be dictated by others. And while there are some who have many people to help them through these difficult times, like purging after a loved one is gone, there are others who feel very alone in it.
At Load of Rubbish when you are ready to go through and purge a departed loved one’s things, we let you dictate what stays and what goes. Everything we collect is sorted and either donated or recycled. We understand that grief is a difficult time and try to be sensitive to your needs while handling estate cleanups. If you need help sorting out a loved one’s things, we encourage you to contact Load of Rubbish. Grief is hard enough. Let us help lighten your load.