Monday, September 08, 2008


Tonight, I started on a task that I've been avoiding for months -- cleaning out my husband's clothes. Oh, this is a hard one. I've had to wait a while to do this.

When my mother died, my sister, being the take charge and delegate type of person that she is, arranged a date for some charity to come pick up my mother's clothes. She then left for her home three hours away and told me to clean out her closets. This was about two weeks after mom died. My mother loved clothes, and her wardrobe had expanded to four and a half closets, two chest of drawers and one dresser. As I took down each blouse, each dress, each suit, I could smell baby powder, L'Air du Temps, AquaNet and BenGay. At one point, I just had to sit down and bawl. She was so there ... but not there, and she never would be again.

My husband and I shared a walk-in closet. His clothes were on the left, mine on the right. Purses, caps, hats, and junk filled the shelves overhead. Our shoes formed a jumble in front of the shoe rack. His ties and my scarves created colorful cascades of silk on both sides. In short, our closet was a wreck.

I didn't intend to do this tonight. I was just going to hang up some clean clothes, but the closet was so messy. I took down a couple of shirts which were falling off their hangers, then decided to fold them. Cooler weather is coming up, and someone can use these long sleeve button down shirts. I got a garbage bag and put them in. Then, it just seemed to make sense to clear off that one wall, so I did, and I kept going. I had to keep his winter coat. Oh, my sweet husband looked so handsome and dignified in that long tailored black wool coat. Most of the time, he looked sweet and cute in an almost goofy kind of way, but he was just plain handsome in that coat. I had to keep one of his favorite ball caps. It's old, faded and beaten up, but I just can't let it go.

Slowly, surely, I worked my way through, filling garbage bag after garbage bag with clothes and shoes. They're piled now in front of my dresser. I'll need help getting them out to the car. I know I've needed to do this. but somehow it feels disloyal. He can't wear these clothes anymore, and someone else can get good use from them, but it feels like I'm getting rid of him. This is just one of the things you have to do when someone dies though, but it's one more thing that shouts,"This just isn't right."

My closet is closer to clean than it's been in years. My clothes are hung in order by sleeve length, color, hem length, style and season. It would make any fashion retailer proud. I'd rather curse while stumbling over his loafers and finding my blouse mixed in with his polo shirts.

Each day has a different reminder that there is a big hole in my life now. I know that one day its jagged edges will stop hurting, but this hole can never be filled. We all have holes like that. I know that. Not only does no one get out of this life alive, no one gets out unhurt.

I wish I could get some life lesson from this. I know this will help me "move on" eventually. This isn't the first, second or even third time I've cleaned up the remainders of a life. I know I'm doing what has to be done. I just hate that it has to be done at all.



Blogger Theresa Williams said...

Joan Didion, author of THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, spoke with Charlie Rose about how difficult it was to do something with her husband's clothes after he had died. She said the shoes were the hardest. This is a universal pain. I'm so sorry, Cyn. Not a day goes by that I don't think of you.

September 08, 2008 1:38 AM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

September 08, 2008 1:50 AM  
Blogger more cows than people said...


September 08, 2008 7:47 AM  
Blogger Songbird said...


September 08, 2008 9:14 AM  
Blogger Lisa :-] said...

I don't have anything wise to say. It so sucks that two of my best friends are walking this path of grief right now. Someday, maybe I'll be able to help you and Robin as much as you two have helped me.

Love you.

September 08, 2008 4:36 PM  
Blogger emmapeelDallas said...

I haven't had to do this, thank goodness, but I do remember when my mom died, I went back to their place with my dad, after the funeral, and a pair of mom's old shoes was on the floor beside a chair she used to sit in, in the living room. They were very worn, and sort of curled up at the toes, and I couldn't look at them without crying. I don't know how you tackled a closet. I hate that you had to do it, too.

September 08, 2008 10:01 PM  
Anonymous lorna (see throughfaith) said...

(((hugs to you)))

glad you are writing again - sharing the pain is good. Those of us who have buried someone we love (even if not our spouse) know a little of what you are doing though

for me it was the diaries (just ordinary work ones not journals) were the one thing I could not let go of - and a dressing gown.

September 15, 2008 1:04 AM  

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