Quilts and Flowers

This week I took two huge steps in this journey of grief. I did not plan on them happening in the same week or even on the same day. But that's what ended up happening. It's weird how when you change things in your home or your life the different emotions that come with it. I always feel so much guilt when I move his stuff out of the place he left it. I feel like I'm betraying him or leaving him behind. But I also feel like I'm doing something good by not allowing myself to be completely stuck in the sorrow. 

The first thing was something I always knew I wanted to do once I was ready. I wanted to make quilts out of his shirts for the kids. I looked into it this week and found out if I was going to get them for this Christmas I had to mail the shirts out this week. So I did. It was so hard taking his shirts out of the closet. That's his side. His stuff. And I am removing it. I am changing it never to go back to what it was ever again. I understand that leaving his shirts hanging up will not bring him back but it always brought me comfort almost like going back in time seeing his clothes hanging there. The very hardest part though was dropping that box off at the post office. I tried my hardest to keep it together. I taped that box up like no ones business. But I couldn't hold the tears back when it was time to hand the box over. All I could think was what if it doesn't make it? What if the box gets lost or ripped open? All those precious shirts gone. People don't understand when all you have left of someone is material items they become treasure to you. You can look at them and remember your loved one wearing them. You can take yourself back in time to a happy place. Memories are all you have left and these items help you find those memories. 


flower.jpgI gave the lady the box and went to my car and cried and cried. It should arrive on Monday. 

The other big step I took this week was also something I knew I wanted to do when the time was right. The only flowers I kept from the funeral were the ones placed on top of the casket. I wanted nothing to do with flowers by that point. After all my house was filled with them. People don't know what to do when someone dies so they send flowers. It's a beautiful gesture but when you have 25 bouquets filling your entire kitchen it becomes overwhelming. So after the funeral I refused to take any of them. Expect that one. Since then it has been in my kitchen on my bar server. The flowers died and still it stayed. Every few months my mom would offer to throw it out for me and I would say no. I wanted to keep it. I know it made some people uncomfortable, you could tell what it was. But I have learned to do what's best for me and my kids on our time. 

Last weekend we had a Halloween party and I moved it out of the way. It's the first time it has even been picked up. Just moving it to another room made me realize I should do something with it. So I decided to push my luck and see if I could pull the dead flowers out and glue them into shadow boxes. I made three of them, one for me, one for his mom and one for his sister. 

When I gave them their boxes I cried. I cried because I felt guilty for doing this. But I'm happy it's gone out of my kitchen. It's a very weird feeling to feel so much sorrow and guilt but feel like I did something right at the same time. 

And so it is done. These small steps that everyone tells me are great progress and I am doing the right thing. They tear me up on the inside. They are proof of the life I am living. Proof of the hole that will forever be left in my heart. But we must keep going and so I do. 

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  • Luz Rivera
    commented 2016-11-07 16:27:22 -0800
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I too feel as you do whenever I look at his stuff or move them. I love the quilt idea out of his shirts instead of giving them to charity or storing them away. I believe that once I’m ready to move them this is what I will do with them. I lost my husband and partner 16 months ago and everyday feels like that dreaded day. He was my best friend since we were 15 and 29 years later he was still my best friend. I ask myself everyday why me, why him. Everyday I wake up and look at my children’s faces and say he would want me to go on. He wills me to keep going and listening to your story gives me hope so thank you.
  • Z Freehling
    commented 2016-11-07 15:36:17 -0800
    Michelle, I too am going through my house and re-arranging my closets. I’ve slowly moved David’s few Hawaiian shirts and flannel shirts out of our closet into a closet of what used to be his office. It’s a little easier not seeing them hanging in the closet every time I open the door, but I still haven’t dealt with his tee shirt collection. I wanted to send them off, as you did, to make quilts for each of my adult children and two small quilts for grandchildren, but I haven’t been able to do so. Why? Because I can’t get my children to choose the shirts they want for the quilt or even help me clean out the closet.

    No One wants to help do that, so it is another wrenching chore to do. I was addicted to smelling his clothes in the closet, but I thought it wasn’t helping me move forward, so I moved his clothes to another closet.

    Yes, there is a hole, a chasm, in my heart, which at first I skirted, afraid I would fall in, but now it seems I’m learning to negotiate the boundaries of that hole. Those things of his that I give away fill me with dread and guilt, yet also some joy as I know David would not hold onto his “stuff” forever. He would release it all to the Universe, and so I do, including the guilt that tugs at the very act of doing so. Z