The Voluptuous Spanish Beauty

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The wrist, with its watch that still keeps time

I brought one of Mark’s belongings into re-commission the other day.

You know, one of those hallowed material remnants of His life which have been taunting me from the back of the cupboard for the past 23 months.

One of those remnants which, prior to His death, were of negligible importance, but which have now been conferred with Heritage status.

These remnants include:

  • shoes (still complete with footprints and a vague lingering whiff)
  • clothing (including a pair of slightly-soiled Primark pyjamas)
  • a wristwatch that still keeps time
  • old bus passes
  • shopping lists written in His hand
  • an Amazon receipt for a cream-coloured slow-cooker
  • and the man-bag I have just exhumed from the attic and decided to use for work.

It felt strange to see the bag back in use, slung over the back of a chair with things in it. 

Stranger still was to feel about in its pockets to find a forgotten Metro ticket and a screwed up clump of tissue, presumably still imbued with His DNA. My compulsion to use it, when I have so many handbags of my own, is inexplicable to me, yet it did bring with it a sort of comfort.

It’s difficult to know what to do for the best with the other items, for really, they serve no purpose other than to jab at my heart every time I see them, yet to dispose of them would be somehow irreverential. Even the Amazon receipt, which bears nothing of Him except His name and evidence of what He bought.

The remnant which causes me the most chagrin, aside, of course, from the Contents of The Box Which Must Not Be Mentioned, is His guitar. It is a voluptuous Spanish beauty with whom He was deeply in love.

I opened the case yesterday, just to see it again, and ran my fingers over the fret board and the strings. I realised it has been lying there all these months, slowly going out of tune.

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20 thoughts on “The Voluptuous Spanish Beauty

  1. As usual, I get you. G was the least materialistic person ever, but since he died his stuff (and in some cases, for stuff read junk!) has taken on iconic proportions. Somewhere in what remains of my brain, I seem to think that if I don’t have his things then he wasn’t really here, or I’ll forget him. I got rid of most things, but some of the things that remain are seriously questionable. I also became obsessed with getting photos developed and used numerous groupon offers to make photo books – and the very ill advised heart shaped photo montage (don’t ask). The only thing I don’t regret is the memory bear made from one of his shirts, but in most cases, what was I thinking? His stuff gives me some comfort and reminds me of happier times. But I know that wherever he is he will be shaking his head and saying get a grip ffs! Love & hugs my friend xx

    • Hello me dear, great to hear from you. Re: memory bear, interested to know why this is the only thing you don’t regret…I have grappled with this one for a while, but am frightened to cut up his clothes for fear of somehow adulterating what I have left of him. Assuming you didn’t feel this way? Would love to do something like this with his cllothes but did worry that I might regret it once the clothes were cut…? Love xxx

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      • G was a bit odd in that he didn’t like ‘things’- he worked in IT but had the most basic phone and laptop etc. He just needed the thing it do its job, no bells and whistles required. Clothes for him were something you need to have but if it took him longer than 2 minutes to buy, he wouldn’t get it (he bought a suit, shoes, shirt and tie in less than 5 mins once- it was something to see!) He had no emotional connection to anything material, apart from some racing books, so I didn’t feel too bad in getting rid of most of them. The shirt I picked for the bear was one he really suited and wore a lot, and I’ve got the bear sitting on my desk at work, so I like that it’s there in front of me every day and it brings back nice memories. It’s also quite small, so not too in the face of anyone else. A fellow WAYer made it and I liked that she knew how precious it was. I made the decision quite impulsively and did wonder if I’d done the right thing, but am so pleased I did. I do understand that it’s not an easy decision to make though. Lots of love xxxx

  2. Oh my goodness the guitar as metaphor fairly pulls at the heart strings!

    i’m sat here trying to imagine what material things there would be left to show that my husband existed, and there is nothing. I am quite staggered, and sad suddenly. Things don’t make a person, of course they don’t, but that physical connection with something they’ve touched is an important one. I have so many little treasures dotted about from people who are no longer here, but what trace would he leave? A rather sobering thought. Hmm.

    • I think that’s it, isn’t it – material remnants to show that someone existed, something which contains their DNA. I certainly think that when someone disappears from your life suddenly, you need those remnants more than ever. Sobering indeed. Thanks again for reading and commenting.xx

  3. dear Lucie,

    what a heart wrenching dilemma, not being able to decide what one might let go, and what should stay. but you will know when the time is right and be able to manage it whatever it takes, albeit, even with some measure of grief that inevitably still resides in your heart.

    Hugh’s things are all still in our closet – all on one side opposite my space. my eyes always seem to gravitate to his shoes. what is it about the shoes that makes my heart ache so acutely? perhaps they remind me of so many beautiful walks we took every evening at twilight. or maybe it’s because I insisted he treat himself to some really good shoes, when his inclination was to settle for a good price and practicality. once he caved and purchased 3 pair at the same time! and he ended up enjoying them so much. or maybe they remind me that he never lost his fear of falling after that horrible snap of his femur that lead to his diagnosis. or perhaps it’s looking at the shoes he wore the day before he died, the day he walked normally for the first time in three years – after hundreds of grueling physical therapy sessions.

    the memory bear – maybe it will be something for your little girl to treasure as well. and I know of several widows who have had memory quilts made with fabric from their loved one’s clothing. and the Voluptuous Spanish Beauty- even out of tune it must be a treasure. maybe some day your little girl will want to play the guitar…

    much love and light,

    Karen xoxoxo

    • Shoes, shoes, yes, they are weird, aren’t they? I laid Mark’s out the other day, as if he’d just stepped out of them, and it was a very strange sensation. The footprint within it is very disconcerting too, I know exactly what you mean. The VSB is such a treasure, probably the most treasured out of everything actually, because of how much he loved it. I’m thinking I may display it on a wall. But maybe not just yet… Love to you friend. xx

  4. I totally understand this sentiment. The watch thing! I loved seein Ian with his watch. Too sexy. Anyway after he died Chelsea my youngest who is 19 loved his watch. She’s very vintagey. So she wears it every day. I’m so pleased that she gets so much pleasure from it but it pains me to see it on another wrist but I would never tell her. I also have kept almost all Ian’s worldly possessions such as shoes with toe imprints which I constantly run my fingers over thinking it will bring him back I frequently smell shirts that he’d hung up before I had chance to wash them but now they just smell wardrobey I’m constantly checkin his pockets in the hope of finding something from our past but I’m being ridiculous as I’ve done it so many times that I know I’ve found everything. The kids have been home this weekend to help me through the first anniversary of his death which has helped immensly but they’ve left now and I feel bereft again and it’s his birthday tomorrow. I may need to raise a glass or 5 to a wonderful husband and father taken too soon. The only people who think there’s a time limit for grief. Have never lost a piece of their heart. Take all the time you need xxx

    • I didn’t wash any of Mark’s clothes and am saddened that they no longer seem to smell of him. They do take on a generic smell, bearing no relation to the beautiful person who once occupied them. That’s so lovely about the watch – I do think for kids these ‘remnants’ are so important to get a sense of the man. Glad you got through the first anniversary love. Head down and back into the wind… XX

  5. Hi Honey, Just to let you know i have Steve’s £10 note in Tia’s “Daddy Box”, apparently i gave it to his eldest niece who kept it for Tia when i was ready to have it back…… I gave watches, wallet, necklace, hats, Bike, Golf Clubs, all sorts out to his family in that first week, i’ve been told that they took them to keep them safe as they knew i wasn’t thinking straight and would one day regret it…… And i’m glad they did, i cried when the bank took his bank card off me and cut it up nearly 6 months later…… Yet these things weren’t him they are really mostly just stuff he liked / had…. But you try everything to still be close and these things can feel like they help…. xxxx

    • Oh god, the bank card, I hated having to hand that over. He was so fastidious about his accounts, it just seemed so brutal to watch the bank manager cut his card up in front of me. I think large organisations really need to think about the way they handle bereavement actually, it’s clearly a universal issue for widows and widowers. XX

  6. Oh my…all these comments have hit home for me; my husband, too; had his birthday on Jan 20th; and we had planned something to commemorate the day, like a balloon release or something like that…would you believe it…my water heater valve got stuck open in the garage where all Ray’s stuff was stored (old stuff, but important to me) and the whole garage was steamy like a hot shower! I was stunned, and once I finally was able to shut off the water, the spector of the damage was just heartbreaking. Much of it was papers, from old businesses, or sketches and drawings that he had filed away quite awhile ago, but as I pulled everything out onto the driveway and lawn to dry and sort through; I found some of his notebooks and dayminders; with his characteristic doodles and commentary on whatever was going on at the time. Talk about a sobbing mess…but I gently put them aside and kept working on the grueling task ahead of me. My grandkids came over to help and it was like an archeological dig; stuff from my parents’ and grandparents’ now all passed away; treasures (and some trash) but we found some gems among the rubble. My grandfathers music box, his journals…my gramma’s sewing basket, my dad’s sweet collection of miscellany (he was a real packrat) and Ray’s Early Art Portfolio…everything was so grody from being stored, and I think it would have taken me another 10 years to sort things out if it hadn’t been for the dang leak! So, silver lining is; I found some real meaningful stuff I had forgotten or never even knew I had…the birthday commemoration is postponed until I have finished designing the Memorial Stone and we place it in his spot, which is a lovely serene cemetery in the country on ‘Rainbow Road’..
    I also cannot bring myself to discard ANYTHING! I have not yet moved any of his belongings…they are my Sacred Mess; shoes and socks, candy wrappers, water bottles half empty, his underwear by the bed…I have not changed the sheets in more than 5 months; and probably won’t, not sure about what to do, but I know when I get in bed, there is some remnant of him, some slight aroma, some dna; I wrap myself up in those sheets and hug his pillow tight. I have added many tear stains to them…but they still give me comfort. Hang in there dear ladies; we are sisters in this terrible journey; one that we must each go alone, but each one sharing their own experience and ways to somehow get through to another sunrise is more valuable than all the grief counseling in the world! Wishing you Comfort and Peace, Lucie…I know tomorrow will be really tough; but we are all sending you a big warm embrace and will be thinking of you with lots of love, Cathy

    • Your Sacred Mess!! Love it! I have one of those too. Sounds like you had an emotional, yet strangely gratifying day, despite not doing what you’d planned. Interesting I think in the light of my experience yesterday that the birthday commemoration ended up being postponed. I hope it goes well, and that it doesn’t feel forced in any way. Keep on keeping on. And keep on being in touch and sharing stories of Ray. He sounds like a truly special individual. (Furthermore, I love the new vocab I am learning – GRODY?! Does that mean mouldy? Love it…!) Love to you xxx

  7. I don’t know if anyone still reads this blog, but I so get what you said about his things. Sandie has been gone 3 months, and I don’t even want to move her shoes from where she so carefully lined them up in the closet. Her daughter took a lot of the clothes, but there’s still a lot left throughout the house. Sometimes I can’t even look at them, and seeing her picture, I can’t believe she’s really not coming back. I miss her so much…… Rick

    • Hi Rick, thanks for the message. So sorry for the loss of Sandie. If it makes you feel any better, it’s coming up three years for me and I still have all Mark’s clothes and shoes. The overnight bag he had packed for the weekend when he died is still intact too. I don’t know if or when I’ll ever be able to sort through them. I get the disbelief too, still even now it jolts me, it seems so entirely unbelievable that I’ll never see him again. You are not alone in your feelings, Rick, sending you strength for the months ahead. X

      • Thanks for that. Sandie had cancer for 5 years, and we got married in March 2012. It was harder than I ever thought it could be. I’m glad she’s in Paradise now, free from pain and this broken world.

        I have been looking for people who understand. This is like nothing else; grieving the loss, while feeling relief that the battle is over. I know most of my friends and relatives can’t relate to my ups and downs. I’m not sure I’m “doing it right”, but everyone says there’s no right way. Anyway, I’m grateful for my faith. If not for that, I’d be a basket case.

        Blessings to you and everyone else going through grief.

      • You don’t say how old you are Rick, but have you considered joining WAY Widowed and Young? If you are under 50, I found this organisation to be a lifeline in the early days. There is a group for over 50s too – worth having a look at their website. No-one can relate to it unless they’ve been through it – I find that it is a very isolating kind of grief. You have to find comfort where you can, I’m glad you are seeking kindred spirits online and also have your faith. Love x   From: Wife After Death To: lucieabrownlee@yahoo.co.uk Sent: Wednesday, 21 January 2015, 13:29 Subject: [Wife After Death] Comment: “The Voluptuous Spanish Beauty” #yiv7284787453 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv7284787453 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv7284787453 a.yiv7284787453primaryactionlink:link, #yiv7284787453 a.yiv7284787453primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv7284787453 a.yiv7284787453primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv7284787453 a.yiv7284787453primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv7284787453 WordPress.com | | |

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