The Things They Leave Behind

Because we love deeply, we grieve deeply.

There is very little warning for what I have lovingly coined my “grief episodes.” These episodes are the memories that flood my brain when I’m reminded of something quirky, funny, or just plain silly Mark may have said or done.

They happen at the Dunkin’ coffee shop, at family get-togethers, reading a Facebook memory, at the dentist office, in the shower, you name it. They happen anywhere, everywhere, and usually are completely unavoidable. When Mark first passed, this typically resulted in a display of emotions which may or may not have really freaked out those Dunks’ customers. Sorry, all.

You should take some time to sort through the memoirs of your loved one’s life.

But then, there are the things our loved ones leave behind: the unlaundered clothes, a dried-out toothbrush, medications you *should* bring to the police station for disposal, photos, even a (slightly) dusty nightstand that holds way-too-many bottle openers and boasts 45 keys that open something, somewhere. Memoirs of Mark’s life are all over my house. It took me four weeks to erase the whiteboard (the featured photo in this post) that used to house all his appointments, nurse visits and medication instructions. Now it’s become a “notes to Mark” board.

There’s no timeline or rulebook for when you are “supposed” to go through these items, but there is also an unwritten “Keep, Donate, Throw Away” day us widows somehow have to get to. I proudly avoid this “I’ve overcome my grief!” day as I believe you should take some time to sort through the memoirs of your loved one’s life. While I have been addressing his things as I come across them, packing up, donating or throwing pieces of his life away cannot happen in one day. It’s just too much and too final.

For example, I cancelled his credit cards and managed his estate matters like a boss, but I can’t even think about opening his sock drawer, much less giving his socks away. I know how ridiculous this sounds, believe me. But if I acknowledge his feet aren’t here to fill them, the tears come, and that’s no fun.

While tears are healing, cleansing, and blah-blah-blah, no-one tells you how painful they’ll become.

Laurie Moon-Schmorrow

If you’ve grieved someone very close to you, you know what I’m talking about. That overwhelming pit in your stomach that causes you to gasp for breath in a desperate attempt to regain composure and not break down…again.

While tears are healing, cleansing, and blah-blah-blah, no-one tells you how painful they’ll become. It physically hurts to cry now, and no…I have not been stung by bees on *just* my eyelids, thank you! The first few weeks after Mark died, I was in a daze, so I didn’t cry much. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of Mark’s death because I watched him take his last breath, it just didn’t feel real then. It still doesn’t feel real sometimes, because my memories keep him alive.

Even as I write this post, I can see him sitting in his Captain’s Chair, grabbing both sides of the kitchen table and fiddling with the tablecloth, (which drives me crazy) smirking at me while he does it. I’m half-tempted to swat at his hands, but then I remember his death, and it burns inside. And each time I encounter some of his things, it becomes even more real. I think this means the shock has lifted and grief has settled in for its duration. How toasty. That means I’ll have to feel all “the things” now, too.

For a moment, something familiar both caused and eased my sorrow, simultaneously.

The other day I was prepping for a nice long shower when I noted his body wash. Now, I’m a lavender and sunshine kinda gal by nature, but I opened his body wash for the first time in 10 weeks and was flooded with his “man smells.” The warm scents of cedar, menthol and cool water…whatever that is.

My senses filled with the aroma of Mark, and it felt so comforting. I lathered myself in an obscene amount of his body wash, and while I did feel emotional, I did not ugly cry. Instead, I wept little tears and remembered how his skin felt, the look of his tattoos, the large amount of hair on his strong shoulders. For a moment, something familiar both caused and eased my sorrow, simultaneously. I was relieved I wasn’t sobbing uncontrollably and rather was enjoying the moment and this memory of him.

After I finished showering, I felt in control of my feelings. I finally threw out Mark’s used razorblade and replaced it with a new one. Mark is dead, but my leg hair still grows, so I might as well use the ProGlide razors. But I wasn’t done there, because I tossed a hand-mirror, his tweezers, an old comb, and his nose-hair trimmer in the trash. It’s not like that thing worked anyway because Mark always had these really long nose hairs. I miss pulling them out, although he’s probably grateful I can’t do it anymore. HAH! Okay, I need a moment…

Their things are the tangible proof our person was here with us, they left us, and they will always be present for us.

Laurie Moon-Schmorrow

Grief is HARD. It’s chronic, especially when the person you lost is so close to you. It never goes away because you carry love and memories of your lost person in your heart. Those memories return us to our most beloved moments with our person, and they become present for us again. Grief is the pain we feel when we realize these moments won’t happen again and acknowledge all the future moments that were stolen from us.

A stolen future is why I grieve so deeply. And his things remind me of that future. His unstamped passport, the gun holster I found under the bed, his sneakers, a container of Rocky Road Ice Cream, the swash of tools in the basement, the floppy discs and AOL CD-ROM I recently found in the time-warp that was his file cabinet.

It’s all the things Mark and I wanted to do: buy a house, travel to Hawaii, Alaska and California, have more doggos than we probably should, grow older together…now they won’t happen. It’s a lot to accept and I’ve realized encountering “the things” are unavoidable after-effects of death. But I’ve also learned it’s okay to find comfort and solace in the socks, razors and last millenia computer supplies they leave behind. Relish them. The things they leave behind are the tangible proof our person was here with us, they left us, and they will always be present for us.

The “Keep, Donate, Throw Away” day can wait.

For now,
Lau

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