Saturday, August 15, 2009

On Closets

Teacher Inservice begins on Monday, and I'm attempting to organize my life (just a little) in preparation.  The area that has me stumped is where to put my clothes. I long ago abandoned the closet in our master bedroom to let D have complete control and domain of it. You see, I get up at the crack of dawn, and he kept the schedule of a normal person. I would always awaken him  as I foraged through the closet for my daily clothing needs. When I apologized later in the day for waking him multiple times, he'd say, "It's not the noise that bothers me: it's the light." Well. I needed that closet light to, I don't know, see what I was looking for, so I abandoned that closet for one in the guest room. Where I could make my clothing selections with the light on to be sure what I had chosen would match. It was so much easier when clothes came in coordinates, like Granimals for children, but I digress.

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 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.


Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

A coworker expressed similar sentiments about clothing after her husband passed away. Although he had been severely ill for years, his death was unexpected. His shirt was hanging/folded over a chair and her mother had put it away, perhaps in the closet, and she said it just upset her so that his shirt had been moved.

Sometimes, it's the "little things,' ya know?

One day at a time.

Lynn said...

I haven't read your blog for a few days but this post hit me right where I have been. My experience is don't rush to do something with D's clothes. Be sure you are ready. In the early days there is comfort in just the smell of the clothes in the closet. I remember well I had decided it was time to clean out J's closet and when I opened the door the smell of him was all over the inside and I just lost it. I had a long cry just because of the smell of his cologne when I opened the door. When the time did come and I was able to move them we packed up shirts and jeans and boots (he was a cowboy!)and gave some of them to guys we knew would wear them. Some we gave to a pastor friend to give to guys that needed them. I kept a couple shirts that I wanted and actually they are still in my closet. I haven't worn one in a long time but there have been a few times when I just wanted to put it on and I found comfort somehow in that. I know that may not work for you but for me it helped. Can I share just one more thing from my journey? Don't rush to "get over" your grief. I know it is different for each of us but don't let others rush you by saying that you should be over it and getting on with your life. Be sure you go at your own pace and for as long as it takes. It is often people who have not experienced such a huge loss that have the most answers for how we should progress:)I still have hard days at times but they are fewer as the years go by. God bless you and keep you as you walk out this journey with Him.