The real problem is his clothes still fill the master closet. How do I really know when The Time Has Come to clean out his clothes closet? I've decided that it is much harder for wives who face this problem: men's clothes seem to never go out of style. There are shirts he wore while we were dating that are probably still available in department stores. Try that with women's trendy/seasonal styles that look dated in months.
So, his clothes are like the results of an archaeological dig of our entire marriage. T-shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with Hawaii, the Cayman Islands, San Francisco, Chicago, Orlando and Key West logos. The dress business clothes from his days in management and engineering. The casual business clothes from the time in architectural design. The work clothes that he spent many hours in building furniture in the garage. Church clothes, cowboy clothes (ye haw! we live in Texas and have the occasional rodeo), biking clothes, running clothes...so many things held onto when they were no longer useful to him.
On this journey, I'm often frustrated because there is really no one I can ask for advice about these issues. Only two readers of this blog have volunteered the information that they, too, are widows. My close friends have been my panel of advice for questions like how to get a baby to sleep through the night, how to deal with colicky babies, how not to kill your teen aged son when he gets a tattoo or two speeding tickets in a week. (These may or may not be real examples.) But no one seems to have the knowledge to help me deal with the issues of dealing with the Left Behind Clothes.
A local charity sent me a card for clothing donations: they will even come and pick the clothes up from my home if I contact them. When I think of boxing the clothes, the words to the old Michael W. Smith song, "Friends", always begins playing through my mind:
"Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you..."
The clothes are obviously not the problem. It's the memories associated with them. I have a friend who has offered to take all the t-shirts for running events D participated in over the years, and make them into a quilt. I may take her up on that offer.
While I was in Maine I read a book I bought months ago but hadn't had the energy to read yet. In it, a young widow donated her husband's clothes to a shelter and was surprised and delighted to be riding around and seeing his shirts appearing on others all over town. To be honest, that seems a little too sad for me. The clothes are not D, but the memories of good times we had while he wore them are almost tangible.
And I take comfort in the last line of the "Friends" song:
"I'll keep you close as always
It won't even seem you are gone
Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong."
Those clothes? I'll know when and how to take care of them.
Same thing for the memories attached to them.