These Can’t Be Keepsakes…?

Dearest Rachel –

So yesterday, Jan was over, and we continued cleaning out your side of the bedroom. Most of the books under the nightstand are being donated (the rule is, if I don’t see myself reading these books – and they don’t have any notes from you in them, so I don’t, for the most part – they should go to someone who will), although there are a fair number of papers you left behind that you’d written on that I can’t bear to part with. Yes, they’re mostly lists of this or that, but I’m just not ready to let go of them. So, they’re in one of the boxes with your sermon notes.

On the other hand, the dresser was, I’m sorry to say, pretty much a washout. After all, used socks and underwear are just not fit for donation by default, according to Jan (and given how they’re used, that makes perfect sense), and you didn’t use stuff ‘gently,’ as the expression goes. No, you got every last stitch’s worth of value out of every piece of clothing for as long as you could. Which is not to say that the stuff in there was threadbare or anything – at least, not the majority of what was in there – but you wrung all the use you could in the time you had. So, they had a good, useful life… but it’s time they were let go of.

On the other hand, you brought her a ridiculous amount of joy as she went through everything, since literally every drawer of your dresser held something that you had either stashed money in, or simply neglected to take money out of. At this point, I’m pretty sure that we’ve surpassed every other client she’s ever had in terms of total funds located and turned over by her… and she couldn’t be happier about it.

Seriously, she couldn’t. If she were, I’d be afraid she might burst something.

At the same time, there were some rather… unusual… stuff that you’d left behind in there. Which isn’t the first time this has happened. Some things were there because you probably didn’t have anywhere else to put them, like several years worth of bank statements from before the turn of the millennium. There were also a few film canisters that I may have to take in for development (although I have yet to hear from Walmart about the ones I gave to them nearly a month ago – I’m going to have to look into that soon).

And then, there was this one canister that rattled when Jan picked it up. When I opened it up (as Jan couldn’t get her nails underneath the seal to pop the top), I found this:

Used… staples? You were keeping these?

I think both of us would like the story behind this, some day when we meet again hereafter.

Needless to say, it’s been thrown into the trash, along with (as you can see) an old, empty box of Corn Flakes and the like. I’m serious, honey… these couldn’t have been keepsakes, could they?

Eventually, we managed to get everything cleared out of and off of your dresser (except the jewelry box – that pile of nitpicky work is going to have to wait for yet another time), and she suggested I clean off the counter in the laundry room, where I’d been keeping my socks and underwear…

…and move them into your dresser.

Pictured: empty drawer and socks as newly organized. Not pictured: underwear. Come on, are you serious? I’m not showing the internet that; not unless it asks very nicely.

Look, it’s beautiful, having everything organized like this. And I really appreciate the fact that I don’t have to worry about how, in my dresser, it’s so overloaded that the bottom of the drawer is falling out of the back – yeah, I didn’t put this IKEA flatpack dresser together very well, back in the day. So what? You know I was never a handy man.

And yet, it’s just one more terrible admission that, not only are you gone, but I’m likely to be on my own for some time to come. It was bad enough, claiming the real estate in your side of the closet, and now this? I confess, I was hoping that sooner or later, someone else would fill these spaces, along with the hole you left in my spirit. And because of this bit of wishful thinking, I was hoping to avoid moving anything into those places vacated by getting rid of your stuff.

However, Jan keeps pointing out that the areas in which I keep my stuff are full to nearly bursting, and it’s pointless to practically break my own furniture in order to avoid using any of yours. So, here we are, with my winter stuff in your closet and my whites in your dresser. And each additional place in this house that I fill with my own stuff further drives home the fact that no, there’s not going to be some other person to fill those drawers and this house the way I might dream her to.

At least (I hope), not yet.

I’ll be honest, honey, I was really hoping that eventually, this series of letters would come to a… conclusion? No, more like a resolution… where I could pause and write to you something along the lines of “Dearest Rachel, I’d like to you to meet So-and-so. She’ll be taking over for you. I hope you don’t mind.” Maybe a few paragraphs to tell about how we met, how we came to the conclusion that we belonged together, and to extol her virtues in general to you, in a strange sort of effort to obtain your blessing somehow.

Look, I know it’s weird. It’s probably weird of me as it is to be trying to talk to you like this, but here we are. It’s the only thing I can do, especially as you’re physically being diminished from our lives day by day. It’s a necessary thing, but it’s difficult to watch, let alone participate in. Jan seems disappointed in the fact that I can’t be more enthusiastically happy that so much house is being revealed and opened for use as we go through the place – and I appreciate her joy and enthusiasm as she does her job – but all the silver linings we create can’t disguise the fact that they are the result of, and inextricably intertwined with, one very dark cloud.

One day, the clouds will part, I know. I will see you again. I might even remember to ask yo about some of this stuff and why you kept it. But until then, well, I guess I have to carry on. I wish I knew how.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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