Leaving Stuff Behind

I’m finally back home in Kona. And honestly, it’s a little strange. I’ve been traveling more in the past year than the entire previous decade. And I’ve gotten kind of good at it. I’ve honed in on what I really need and where each item belongs in my baggage as I move from one place to the next. So being home really clarifies 1) how little one really needs and 2) how much I really have.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m no hoarder. Just 15 years in the same house - well, you accumulate stuff. And that’s even after getting rid of quite a lot since Mike died. But as I look around my house I realize how much more of this is going to have to go. Even if I find a way to keep this house (foreclosure hearing this Friday, by the way), I really need to clear and simplify. 


And if I did move, what would I take with me? That’s a huge decision too. Do I take my teak dining set, the one my parents got in Denmark in the early 60s, which is so special to my heart? Do I take my piano, or is the cost of moving it just too much? When I go through my kitchen, for example, I constantly come across items that Mike either brought into our marriage or loved for silly reasons. How much of that will I need, and how much would I be able to leave behind?


The idea of leaving any of it behind hurts to the very marrow of my bones. But I know that practicality must win out, at least most of the time. The cost of moving household goods from Hawaii all the way to Florida is extreme. When I think about it, I could probably replace a lot of things more cheaply than it would cost to move them.


So this is what is going through my head. I am itching to go through my house, one room at a time, and make piles of things to throw out, give away or maybe garage sale. And it feels like I am giving away a piece of my life. A piece of my life with Mike, my marriage…a piece of the person I was before, but can’t be any longer.


There are certain things that belonged to Mike that I will carry with me forever. That is for sure. No matter where I end up there will always be a special shelf, and a special wall of photos, and a special corner. But at some point I realize those special places will have to become only a part of my life. Only a part of my world. Only a part of the life I’ve lived. 


Maybe my fellow widows will understand how hard that is. To feel pushed out into the world in the life we didn’t ask for. To look at things around our home that have lost their glow because the person they belonged to is gone. To know that every day that dawns is another day farther away from them. 


And even to have lost the connection to the place we were with them. To finally admit that my place in this world is forever changed because of this loss. And that I can’t do a damn thing about it.


Showing 7 reactions

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  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2016-07-29 11:53:33 -0700
    Wow everyone, thank you for the support and relatable experiences…it means a lot to know we have many of the same issues and feelings, hard as they all are. Quick note to let people know the hearing went fine, it was pretty basic, do you want to keep your house, yes, ok here is the mediation schedule be sure to file all paperwork by the deadlines. It will all be done by the end of September, one way or another. Thank you so deeply for all the supportive thoughts and wishes.
  • Joan Williams
    commented 2016-07-29 08:26:53 -0700
    I can totally relate. A year after my husband died, I downsized a 3300 sf house into storage. I moved cross country to GA, but I took all of his suits. Hhe was a pastor, and boy did he wear suits well! He had a lot of suits! I couldn’t part with them; perhaps if I held on to them, I would awake from the nightmare. After another year, I finally decided that I had to bless someone else with them, so I gave them to a friend to take to her church to donate them. And then two days later, I called her to see if I could get them back; I couldn’t. That was good, because I had to let go. Change is very difficult, but somehow we continue to change and grow from the change. Good luck with change.
  • Penny Sharman
    commented 2016-07-29 08:20:08 -0700
    Stephanie, I loved this post and I can really relate. I especially loved the line “To look at things around our home that have lost their glow because the person they belonged to is gone.” To me, this really rings true with pictures of my husband. I am always looking at them but they’re so empty – they’re just two dimensional images of my person but the essence of him is missing. On another note, today is your hearing – I’ll be thinking of you and wondering how it goes.
  • Dori Capano
    commented 2016-07-29 06:18:02 -0700
    I can connect 100% to this. It’s so difficult (what an understatement) going through their personal items and cleaning out or packing away, and then going through shared accumulated items, everything with a memory attached to it. I keep reminding myself that these material things are not “him” and that the memories will always remain. It feels as though it is one more step of easing their physical presence out of our lives. You lose a husband, the life you built with him, and often the place you lived that life. It turns your life upside down and inside out, but somehow, you keep going and trying to make a new life.
  • Cathy
    commented 2016-07-29 05:41:02 -0700
    Yes, I do understand how hard this is. I downsized and moved 2 years ago, did the whole purge thing. Those things I couldn’t decide to part with were boxed up, to go through once I unpacked. And here I sit with many boxes still unpacked, it is so hard to go through once again, so many memories in those boxes, My advice? Just do it once, dig deep, let it go and and don’t carry the past “stuff” around with you. You got that right when you said “my place in this world is forever changed”.
  • Lisa Richardson
    commented 2016-07-29 00:09:25 -0700
    oh boy do I understand. Our son (my last piece of the life we built together) leaves for college in the fall. I need to find the next place I will call “home”. A place we had dreamt about together but that will now be only mine. I have no idea where it will be, but I know it will be a whole new life. One I never asked for or gave any thought to, but as you said – like it or not I’m being pushed farther out into it with each passing day.
  • caroline mccall
    commented 2016-07-29 00:00:01 -0700
    Wonderful piece. My heart grieves for yours.