Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday, I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another. To follow, please leave your email address.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Paper Remainders - the To-do List



I am so happy to have an essay in the new Under the Sun journal - "Deeper Lake of Blue." You can read it at:

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After Evelyn died, I wanted to keep everything that was connected to her — all her possessions, newspaper clippings, two stone owls from high school (I don’t know what they meant to her, but I’m keeping them), worn out shoes, hair clips, anything she ever touched, anything that might remind me of her style, her likes, her spirit that refused to be defeated by a challenge.


Possessions hold so much Life in them, so many stories. Even simple things like paper.

On the refrigerator door we kept our to-do list of projects that needed to be done around the house. After her death, I continued to work on this list like it was my sacred duty to finish what we had set out to do. Then she could rest, with our work together completed. It took me a couple of months to get everything done because, well, I was grieving and that took most of my time and energy, and when I was functioning it was only to do what I needed to do to make it through the day. So it took me a while.
When I crossed the last item off the list, I felt relief, but also sadness, because it was “our” list. Everything that went on a new list would only belong to me, and I would be the only one working to get things done.

But how long would the ink on the paper remain, before it dissipated into the air like Ev?

I put our slip in a box with other slips of paper that had her handwriting on it, like the notes identifying food in the freezer. That took awhile, too, because some of the food was murky after a year of frost and forgetting, and I wasn’t sure if it was still good to eat so it waited even longer until I decided that it should be tossed.

Ev was constantly looking for gifts that she could give to people for their birthdays, Christmas, or just because. She kept them in the closet with post-it notes attached to identify recipients. The notes were put into the box after I wrapped the presents and delivered them. Also going in were her scribbled notes to work with a student on something, reminders to send a letter to someone whose mother had died, and an appointment card about her upcoming eye exam. All went into the box.

There was also a piece of paper on the washing machine reminding me how many kinds of clothes needed to be washed separately. I pulled that off. I would be washing everything in two loads. Nothing left in life was white. There were no delicates.

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