I recently did the big move two Saturdays ago. It was a horrendous journey from the getgo. Barely two weeks had passed after my husband’s death when I was informed there was a one bedroom coming available in July. I probably wasn’t in my rightest mind, but I did know I didn’t want to pay exuberant rent living alone in the big place, so I agreed to take the early departure.
But before any packing could be done, I had to go through a lifetime of everything we owned. I had to downsize to at least half of everything – furniture, clothes, shoes, and other assorted big things taking up space. I barely had time to mourn over the seperation of the so many things that have been a part of my life, our life, for decades. But there was no choice. And there was barely a helping hand to help me sort out our life and condense it into boxes and smaller spaces. Trauma teaches us just how many are really in our life, and how many actually give a shit. I found out – not many.
I was referred to the clown movers by ‘a friend’ in my building. My good friend Vinnie had brought me over a large moving trolley a month before the move, telling me to use it to transport stuff downstairs as soon as I got the keys early. I did many loads and unloads, alone, and by the time moving day came, it should have been a four hour deal. Only, the mover guys came with no moving tools, didn’t bother taking a shower before coming to our air-conditioned building that was working overtime with some of the worst humidity from a temporary heatwave that hit on moving day, making the breathing more unbearable – even through a mask. These clowns needed me to guide and babysit them, so there was no way I could be down in the new place doing anything constructive. You may be wondering, so no, NOBODY came to help me on moving day.
After over ten hours of moving, scraping, dragging my furniture up and down hallways, I fired them at almost 9pm. My bones all felt broken, and I fell into a very dark place. It wouldn’t be until the Monday, two days later that the cavalry – my good friends Vinnie, Tonie and Alison showed up to help turn my place into a home. There were a few more visits over the last two weeks from my lovely friends, as everyone is busy and has their own life issues to deal with, but I learned a lot. And I couldn’t help thinking about a famous quote from Maya Angelou – “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
Through my journey of grief, I haven’t been working on a book, heck, I haven’t been writing regularly, but I have been writing. I found myself writing snippets of life and what I learned and felt through the days of my husband’s illness, through his dying days, and the emotional fallout afterwards that I continue to live daily. Late at night is when my inspirational moments of recall become crystal clear, and I write these thoughts down in one Word doc that will surely become elaborated on and condensed into a book – eventually – when I regain my balance and begin to stomach rereading the enormity of my life this past year. But in the interim, I will share snippets of my thoughts, here on my blog:
I scream at the top of my lungs when the pain gets too much. I have to release it or I may just spontaneously combust. Since the day you went away I have been running on auto pilot. From the shock of your death to making funeral arrangements, to burying you, to trying to swallow the five lonely weeks you lived from your death edict diagnosis.
The paper work, the banks, investments, will, and income tax to be done too, kept me in a tailspin between tears. Then, the last thing in the world on my mind was moving, yet, I knew I had to. We had planned to move in the early fall before we even knew how very sick you were. What I really wanted to do when you died was lay in bed with covers over my head, for however long I wanted to – days? Weeks? Who knows how long I’d allow myself. But it was as if you intervened when I surprisingly found out in gest there was a smaller unit in the same building. I truly believe you made that happen. But in the midst of the madness of preparing for this 180 degree move for me, it felt more like a total 360.
Life was a merry-go-round of fun, spontaneity, and love. We traveled, we laughed, and we loved, and we had a great life. Once again, I’m suddenly on my own and moving back to a one bedroom apartment, like I did when I left home at eighteen. Only then, it was exciting and freeing. This time it’s painful and lonely.
I’ve given all your belongings to your family, as I was forced to take on the ‘cleaning out’ process as half our stuff would not fit the new place. In the span of my life taking a 180, losing you, and clearing out our life, every picture, sock, piece of furniture, had me and you all over it. A monumental task that I still to this day, do not know how I had the strength to keep moving through while my heart is shattered. But I did. And often I felt I wasn’t even in my own body. Like some invisible force was keeping me going – like a friend calling to offer a hand just at the right moment -like my bestie Zan who still calls me twice a day from the other side of the world, because other than you, my love, there is nobody left living on this planet earth who loves me to nth degree and unconditionally, but Zan.
Erasure and closure everywhere I look. Bare walls embedded with leftover nails sticking out the walls from photos and mirrors now sold or packed away are what reflect back to me now. I think about how many homes we’ve built and sold and downsized each time, yet, we kept so much, like the huge two shopping bags full of every card for every occasion we’d ever given each other in our almost twenty-five years together. When I was getting rid of a lot of things, someone remarked to me that I should toss those bags too. I told her what they were and she remarked they’re no good to me now. Did you hear that? They are ever more important to me now. And one day, when my heart is ready to smile about our good times, I’d like to look back at those cards and smile in my heart again.
“You’re allowed to change your mind about the people and things you want in your life. You’re allowed to adjust your values and preferences as you get older and wiser. You’re allowed to evolve and be a different person today than you were yesterday. This is your life.” ~ Unknown wordables.