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Spring Cleaning

Monday, March 25, 2013
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Everyone has different ways of dealing with our spouses’ personal items like clothes, wallet, jewelry, pictures, notes and other personal items.  For some reason, I do not have a problem with parting with some of Joe’s personal items.  For example, some of his clothes I have saved, some items I donated, and some shirts are still hanging in the closet in the dry cleaning bag that I picked up 2 weeks after he died.  Instead, my feelings seem to be tied to unusual, inanimate objects that have a connection to Joe. 

The other day I bought a new cutting board since my old one was getting really worn out.  I had been holding on to it for too long.  Since Joe was a trained chef, he had organized our whole kitchen.  He tried to teach me some cooking tricks (unsuccessfully) and was beginning to teach our daughters.  On this specific cutting board, he had written CHICKEN ONLY on the side of the cutting board to identify that only chicken should be cut on the board.  He taught us the technical sanitation reasons of why this cutting board should be isolated and I remember him showing the girls basic slicing techniques on this board.  I know that this cutting board was just a piece of plastic but it held so many memories in the kitchen.  I have many pictures and videos of him in the kitchen which I can always look at, but, for some reason, my eyes started to well up when I threw away that cutting board.  It was as if the memories of him were going away with the board.

Another example is our old TV.  We had a “big screen” TV in our living room – not a flat screen that you can buy now but the old, large tube TV that used to be popular in the 90’s – I think it was 4 feet tall.  We had that TV in the basement of our old house and it had so many memories attached.  I remember that Joe bought that TV with cash from a big work project that he had just finished.  He was so proud to have that bonus money and be able to spend it on a luxury item.  With this TV as a centerpiece, we hosted many NYE parties (including year 2000), Wrestlemania parties (don’t ask), watching the Matrix for the first time, etc.  I know that it is just a TV but this specific TV was in the background of so many of our early years as a couple.  When I finally replaced the TV (just a few months ago), I had to ask the delivery guys to take away the old TV since it could not fit in my van.  Again, my eyes started to fill with tears as the TV was loaded into the ABT truck and was driven away.  This simple broken electronic device caused such instant heartache.

I have heard many times that grief comes in waves and is usually unexpected.  You can usually prepare yourself for the holidays or anniversaries, knowing that those days may be painful.  But I hate the unexpected kind of painful memories that catch me off guard.  After the TV “incident”, I looked around my house to see what other items may cause heartache, but then I realized that I can’t prepare for everything.  Just like I wasn’t prepared for my husband to die, I understand that I can’t prepare for the unknown heartaches.  All I can do keep moving forward each day, knowing that I will get stronger so that it should get easier if I need to throw away the next memory-filled, meaningful item.


Grief definitely comes in waves at the most unexpected times. Something will trigger it and it is not always predictable. Nearly a year after my husband's death, we sold our home and moved. His 1977 Cadillac Eldorado was a showcase piece in our garage. An antique, a conversation piece, a comfortable ride and filled with stories over the years of the many trips it had been on, even before I met my husband. It was a classic, but the day after we moved, the car had to go and I could not take it with me. Until the car was towed away, it's as if he was just away temporarily. The permanence of his absence only became clear as the car was rolling down the driveway. Only one child was home at the time and we both took shelter behind different bushes to observe and mourn the loss all over again. I even took pictures as it descended and it was as if it was a funeral procession. Does that sound melodramatic? Are we off our rockers? It just is what it is and some things we cannot hold onto forever. Should we if we could? Probably not. With that car gone, it makes room for new memories and new chapters to write that are yet ahead of us. The past was great, but the best is yet to come...and if not the best, then a new great, whatever that is. I have to believe that and I hope you do too.

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