I knew it would be hard.
Recently I began going through Joe’s room. I am saving some things and having a quilt made from some of his shirts. I could almost hear him: “Mom, really? A quilt? Somebody could be wearing those shirts.”
And I reply: “I am giving away most of your clothes. I’m sure someone will benefit from your pants and shoes, and your robe and slippers.” And then my voice begins to crack with emotion: “I have to save a few things. You’re not a mom, so I don’t expect you to understand. It’s just the way it is.”
And he replies with a shrug: “fair enough” or “cool beans” and I continue my work.
I bury my face in his jacket and inhale deeply. It makes me miss him more but I can’t help myself. Everyone has a scent; Joe’s was mild and masculine at the same time.
Fortunately Joe was not a hoarder. There really isn’t all that much to go through. In fact, early in 2014—just months before his diagnosis—he did a major clean-out of his room. Seemingly out of the blue, he just decided one week to get rid of everything that wasn’t necessary. He wasn’t very attached to “stuff”, so he basically went minimalist. I actually had to retrieve a couple of things from the give-away bag (e.g. his olive fedora that some of you remember well!) because I didn’t want to part with them.
Even though there’s not a lot of stuff, it is taking me a long time. There are items in addition to clothes to sort through. At times I come across something that especially captures my attention… a scrap of paper with the start of a poem (for a man who didn’t talk much, he sure had a way with words), or notes from his martial arts training. The journal he kept during a trip to Eastern Europe. I can only manage about twenty minutes at a time before I feel the need to stop for the day and think about something else.
Oh Joe, I miss you.