Saturday night was my worst in weeks.
I woke at 2 a.m. and spent hours in a futile struggle to rewind the clock to New Year’s. As 2015 dawned, I was looking forward to the college football championship game, some ambitious new projects at work and imagining how Joe and I would spend our 40th anniversary in April. I wanted to make the milestone a special one.
The fates had other plans, of course, and now there is a new nightmare: My brother-in-law has stage 3 lung cancer and it is inoperable. What next?
My mind churned on all this ’til 8 a.m., when I emailed the VA chaplain, begged off my Sunday morning volunteer assignment, asked for prayers and fell asleep at last.
Tense and tired when I finally woke, I didn’t expect that this would be the day I would take another big step toward letting go. It happened as I reorganized our impenetrable bedroom closet. I simply needed more storage space.
So drawer by drawer, I emptied Joe’s dresser of his T-shirts and socks and underwear.
I recalled how he handsome he looked in his favorite blue-striped polo shirt. I remembered how he hated squeezing into one I favored that had grown snug with repeated washings. I recalled how I used to stack his clothes on the bed every morning, boxers and T-shirt on top of his slacks and his shirt, so he could dress himself without puzzling over what to put on first and what came next.
I set aside some keepsakes, but as plastic bags filled with his things, I felt a burden ease. One more task crossed off the to-do list. Friends said it must have been hard.
Truth be told, it wasn’t, really. I choked up a little when I realized that this was going to be the day, but I didn’t cry. The work felt more purposeful than painful, like a natural next step in working through my grief. Tomorrow I will take another and deliver the bags to Goodwill.
I think I’ll sleep more soundly tonight.