My Great Aunt Edith died fifteen years ago, yet her husband (now a death-defying nonagenarian in the rudest of health) still keeps her prosthetic leg propped up by the fireplace in the lounge.
What a macabre, head-banging, delusional freak, right?
Me? My husband died in my Mother’s house. And sometimes, when Mum’s not looking, I go into the bedroom where He took His final breath, open the cupboard and allow my eyes to drift along the rail of her clothes to where His jacket still hangs. It’s right at the end of the rail, tucked away so it can’t be immediately seen.
Some days I just look, then close the door. Other days I sniff it, then reach into the pockets. There are three used tickets to The Deep in Hull, a half-eaten packet of Extra-Strong Mints and His pill box (empty). In the top pocket, there’s a pen.
Below the jacket, at the bottom of the cupboard, is the overnight case He had brought in anticipation of a weekend at Mother’s.
Inside: wash bag (too painful to look through now, but I know it contains toothbrush, toothpaste, razors – items which still hold His DNA), jeans, a brown leather belt, one pair of brown Dr Marten’s boots (size 9), various jumpers and underwear. He had brought the pair of unworn Superdry socks I bought Him for Christmas too, but I had Him cremated in those.
Meanwhile, downstairs at poor Mother’s is the four pack of Guinness M had bought about an hour before He died. It sits on a shelf in the porch, tucked far enough behind the boxes of washing powder and detergent that it is not immediately obvious, but still, I always check for it, glinting through the gloom. I have forbidden her to get rid of it or to allow anyone else to drink it.
In the light of this, and other evidence (the vacuum packed contents of His wardrobe, His guitar, His ashes), I asked my counsellor today, “Am I building a shrine to M? Should I be getting rid of all this stuff, in order to ‘move on’?”
She looked at me with well-rehearsed neutrality. “You have to do what’s right for you. Some people may not understand it. But others – well, they will.”
I thought about the macabre, head-banging, delusional freak, and his wife’s prosthetic leg.
I understand, Uncle Gordon. I understand old son.
6 thoughts on “A macabre, head-banging, delusional freak”
I understand too. I feel if I get rid of all my partner’s things it’ll be as if he never existed. It’s already starting to feel that our life together wasn’t quite real, so I need ‘stuff’ to convince me. Probably seems bonkers to others, but perfectly sensible to me! Thanks for sharing, I always get so much from your posts x
Thank you for sharing too – and continuing to read. I’m starting to understand that feeling of our life together not feeling real. Weird, isn’t it? You hit the nail on the head when you say that to get rid of his stuff is almost a negation of his existence. I look at photos of him, he’s frozen in time. A figment, almost, of some past life.
Love to you. X
It’s true. You have to do what’s right for you. I totally gutted the garage and I know for a fact one of my neighbours thought I was getting rid of everything Ian ever owned. Not true. I was getting rid of things I knew I didn’t know how to use and never meant anything. I kept things that meant something to me such as a dust pan and brush we bought before he went in for his final op. I still have all his clothes. His shirts still have tissues in that he used to wipe his always weeping eye since his op he lost facial nerve so his eye drooped and forever wept. He hated that. But I can’t throw away the tissues. None of his clothes smell of him anymore ! Why is that? I see his foot imprint in his shoes. Why do I torture myself I don’t know. I often just read thro his texts to me. The last one was 7 hours before he died. It said ‘juv u’. I knew that was going to be the night as he always used his spell checker. I’m having better days with devil dog u’ll be pleased to hear. I’m grateful I have him now. He’s a distraction for my grief. However I have no plants left no grass no kitchen carpet need I go on ….. Life does tho. Hang in there We’ll get thro this xxx
Hello lovely. Thanks for the comment. Interesting what you say about texts – I had to change my phone recently and lost M’s final two texts to me. They were jokey ones – inevitably – and to read them after he died was very strange. And yes, a dustpan and brush can be imbued with such meaning, I understand totally. Glad glad glad that devil dog is finally proving his worth. I hope it continues…love and strength. X
When I unexpectedly lost my husband 13 years ago, it took me around 3 years to get to the place where I could actually move his things let alone pack or donate them. Now unfortunately, I have to travel down this road again with my beautiful boyfriend’s belongings. Our bedroom still looks like he just left & will be coming home. I have the shirt he wore last on his pillow on our bed. Every morning when I wake up in our bed, I open my eyes & that heartbreaking realization that he’s really gone takes my breath away. I have to believe that my heart will guide me with this life altering process & that everyone has their own time table. Thank you for your raw & honest feelings it makes me feel like I’m not alone.
Urggh. I feel your pain right in my heart. I also have that feeling when I wake up – he’s still not there. I understand the feeling of your breath being taken away. It really does take it clean away doesn’t it? Thanks to you for sharing – it makes ME feel less alone too. XXX