That Polo Shirt

Its sixteen months into this new life and like all others on this journey I’ve taken many steps forward and many steps back. A couple of months ago making the decision that I would prepare myself to put John’s clothes away. I decided to give myself a timeline of two months to do this.

During this two month timeline there were days that I felt so confidant to do it and then there were days that I broke into tears at just the thought of it.

But I made this plan and I bought in my closest friends to help me go through with it.

 

The day I had dreaded arrived and I pretended as though I’d forgotten what I had planned to do this day. I allowed my phone to ring out, the first time that my friend began to call. I knew why she was calling and what was instore for the evening, but I wanted to ignore the idea of it. When she called for the second time I answered and exclaimed with sarcastic excitement “it’s a wine night, I’m excited”. By 8pm we had enjoyed a candle lit dinner on my balcony and each of us were on our 3rd glass of cheap wine. I sat with a smile on my face at 10pm with the thought, the girls have forgotten about the plan I had made. Though they hadn’t.

Many laughs filled the room and as the hours ticked over so did my mind. Possibly it was the wine but I thought to myself “stop being afraid, you made a plan so stick to it.” Before I had the chance to say a word, my friends began “let’s do this”.

 

Taking each item from the wardrobe I placed them on my bed, a heaviness filled in my chest as memories flooded in. The white singlet he wore with fluro orange shorts. His blue and white striped polo shirt, worn on our last dinner out together. I could see him sitting across from me sipping on a glass of port with the biggest smile beaming across his face. Remembering the conversations we had as we walked hand in hand to the restaurant. Reminiscing on the laughter and our love. With that tears fell out of longing. Longing for all the happiness we shared, all the moments where he took my breath away. Then there were the shirts I never liked and I laughed thinking of how hideous I used to think they were and how now what I would give to see him wearing them again.

 

Each item of clothing carries with it a perfect memory. Memories that will never leave me, putting these things away takes them out of sight but not out of mind. For the months leading up to this day I told myself, it’s not about forgetting him or leaving him behind. That’s not possible. It’s about moving out of my comfort zone and accepting that he isn’t coming back. It’s about creating space for a new full future and to stop living in the past, living in my grief.

 

I am so thankful to my beautiful friends who were there to help me follow through. Without them I don’t know that I would have been able to do it. Because of them and their presence, something I thought would be so painful was lighted by their love for me. And although my heart felt heavy, it was at the same time so full. Full of gratitude for the life I had with John and the life I’m blessed to still be living.


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  • commented 2017-04-08 21:08:31 -0700
    My husband has been gone for 13 mos. While I have removed some of his clothes from the closet (to make space for mine), they are in piles in another room. Not quite sure when I will take the next step. I plan to let our son and my husband’s best friend take a few of them for the memories.
  • commented 2017-04-08 18:36:22 -0700
    Thanks for sharing this experience. I tackled my husband’s clothes in waves. I did a quick once through and bagged everything that didn’t have a strong memory attached and donated them. Then bagged most of the rest and let them sit until it felt right to let them be donated too. I kept some of the most sentimental items and have them in a box of mementos. Every widow has to do this in the way it feels right for them at the time they choose. So glad you found your way and had your friends there for you to light the way with love.
  • commented 2017-04-08 18:33:55 -0700
    I wish I had your strength. March 13 th was 4 years since I lost my husband I still can’t bring myself to pack up his side of the closet. I’m so conflicted on this one I’m so afraid to forget yet the memories are so painful. I feel like a child throwing a tantrum to get what they want. I’ve thrown myself on the floor and have refused to move until I get what I want (my husband back) I’m completely aware that is just not an option yet here I am sprawled out on the floor wishing I had the strength to keep moving forward to learn to live again and not just exist. Thank you for your post it helps knowing I’m not alone.

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