Emilee’s Clothes. Sounds like the title of a poem or a story. The Emperor’s clothes. It IS a story. It is always a story. For me, and for anyone else that has ever had to perform this task or will have to perform this task in the future. The dreaded “going through the clothes” experience.
One (meaning ME, or I) has to have taken some punches before doing this task. I have gone a few rounds in the last almost 9 months, and have repeatedly (lol, with teary at the moment, but not sobbing, countenance) picked myself up off the mat, the floor, or the imagery I like better is… lifted my head up out of the water and the crashing waves time and time again.
What I am saying is that packing up the clothes is not for the weak or the weary or the faint of heart, but is a task I would not tackle until I was a little battle hardened by the grieving process. I tried to do this about four months ago, did about two bags of stuff and took those to donate, but stopped and realized the rest would have to wait, and would still be there when I was ready. At that time it was literally making my insides feel like a punching bag.
I wasn’t ready then. I think I am now….but … it still ain’t easy. I just love that word when used at the right times…..”ain’t”. Like ….”ain’t she a beauty?” “isn’t she a beauty” just doesn’t quite have the same feeling or ring to it. I think I am ready now, but I am not sure anyone is ever “ready” completely for this task, and there were triggers along the way that kept eliciting sadness and tears, but I felt as if I was coming from a place of a little more solid ground, a little more strength, and a little more confidence in handling emotions now, rather than a few months ago.
Get to the point, Neal. I know, sometimes my posts are a little long, but that is part of telling a story. Some are short, some longer. So, bear with me. This is a marker. And no, I am not presumptuous enough to know what I am talking about. It is just a marker, a signpost along the road, another task in the list of tasks that sooner or later, or never for some (and I am making no judgements on how anyone else does this), for those who chose to tackle it, it is another task that needs to get done.
So, with all the momentary and occasionally longer than momentary crashing waves and rushes of emotions, this task is mostly completed. Is it reigniting feelings and pangs of loss? is it making me question what I am doing? Is it on one the one hand (have to love the “hands”) “making space” and on the other ripping (in a metaphorical note) my heart open all over again in smaller ways??? Am I still crawling ahead?? In spite of all the doubts of …maybe I should have done it this way…or that way…or a hundred other ideas???? YES, YES, YES, and YES to all the other questions I have not elucidated upon (yes, another word I love…elucidated…the sound of it aloud…almost sounds like I am vomiting…. maybe I am…lol)
Okay? I am done now. Said my piece, am blowing my nose, and coming to the point where I know I should go back to bed after crashing and I mean crashing at 9 pm and waking a little after 12 midnight…. but, I had to write something. I have made decisions, I have second guessed but went ahead anyway overall …when it is all said and done?…listening to my gut, to what felt right to me to do, trusting my feelings, and going ahead with decisions (which of course we are forever making decisions based on insufficient information because there is always more information to gather, to consider, to ponder….BUT…we must stop and just DO, act, make a choice, quiet some of the other voices and just say…..ENOUGH….decision made).
Emilee, I am doing my best to honor you and your memory at all times. You, not your clothes or any of your things….you, are in my heart and the hearts of those who you touched with your presence while you were alive.
You would want your clothes to go to those who were needy in that way, or some things to go to someone who would cherish what was yours (and I am also doing that), and so I believe I honor you and the light that is yours by sharing that with others in need and those that will cherish something that belonged to you. It just ain’t so easy as it sounds…to let go, but I am doing it. I want to “cling to”…to “hold onto”…and letting go is never easy.
And, I am finding, if I can reframe my thoughts from those of LOSS and LOSING parts of you or parts of you I wanted to hold onto…and parts of me as well…if I can reframe that into … GIVING, giving away, sharing, spreading out what was yours, giving these “things” in a loving way to those who truly need them, giving these “things” that can improve others’ comfort and their “being”…then I can alter the emotions inside me from feeling sad that I am losing something, to joy or at least comfort that I am giving something, and honoring you in a very RESPECTFUL way. That changes the color of the emotion significantly, and I can even take a deeper, more satisfying and less restricted breath in doing so. NOT EASY. Simple, NOT EASY.
Em…I also liked how I felt when I brought the clothes to where your daughter works. They are handling the clothes very respectfully (this is still making me teary) as they know the clothes belong to her mother, and so it is making me feel good about it, and that is also comforting.
Just know I love you now and always, and because I let go of these clothes (I kept some to make a pillow or a quilt out of them at some point, but some of the items seem soooooooo personal and yank at my heart strings, even the ones with tags still on them, like, you did not have a chance to wear them, and that is sad, but….)
I do not love you any less. I hear you telling me to stop being such a wimp. Just do it. I am. I am. And it at once hurts and yet also feels freeing, a lightness, a weight lifted, and a difficult task completed as best I could. I am in it. I am living it.
This is Neal Harvey…… good day!!!!!
Life After Emilee, on the loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I’m not accepting comments right now but please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page (firstname.lastname@example.org)