That Door

ThatDoor1.JPGIt’s been an epic week. No other way to say it. 


Since my boyfriend is out of town for two weeks I took the opportunity to get ahead of the possibility that I may lose this house and do a massive purge. So for three days I sweated and lifted and sorted and threw away and arranged in my carport for a garage sale. That part was really, really hard…hard physically, and hard emotionally. Even though I’ve already sorted through, given away and donated most of Mike’s stuff, there was still a lot of things of his left…and things we had together. So many memories. If there is a door that closes after a chapter of life ends, I found that door and moved stuff out of the way so I could close it…that will come later.


Many of my friends groaned when I told them I was having a garage sale. Ugh…so much work for so little payoff. Well, in my case I had a few big ticket items, so I had higher hopes. Plus I want to do my best to ensure that all the little things go to people who will appreciate them. But it’s a very strange feeling sitting there watching strangers sort through my life.


The other side of the coin is that a lot of people who know me also appeared. People I hadn’t seen in a really, really long time saw my post on Facebook about it and surprised me to tears. People who knew and loved Mike and were excited for the possibility of taking home his precious archery supplies and other things. It was incredibly hard to part with those last few bits but in my heart I also feel happy that they went to people who will appreciate their value - and actually use them. It’s sad to stare at boxes full of stuff that is not being used. What’s the good in that? They should be out there in the world with people who want them. At least this is how I see things three and a half years later.


And that happened with a few other items as well with people I hadn’t known. One item I decided to part with was my mother’s 1960 portable Singer sewing machine. That thing is really cool and it still works great. But I have a newer machine, and the Singer, even though it’s portable, is still pretty heavy, and it just never, ever gets used, which is a shame. I talked to my mom about it and she agreed it was time for it to go. I researched its value and decided to stick to my guns on the price. It didn’t sell at the garage sale because let’s face it - most of those people are hard pressed to even part with 25 cents. But the next day along comes this guy who had been at the sale the day before saying, hey, I remember you had a sewing machine, and my quilter friend on the mainland got really excited when I told her about it. I told him the price was fixed and he didn’t hesitate, just peeled off the bills. I took one long final look at the machine and decided to ask him about where it was going. Turns out his friend lives in Illinois…well, my mom is from Illinois and bought it there. We both laughed when I told her the story that this machine was truly making a full circle! And both happy it was going to be treasured and used.


After the sale I listed a lot of the leftovers on Craigslist. Man let me tell you - you meet all kinds of interesting characters through Craigslist. Especially in our wacky little town. A couple of guys came to pick up a bookshelf which took some work to get out of the house and into their truck…meanwhile we were chatting, they were funny guys. One of them wouldn’t stop talking about what he does - he calls himself a “lava-ist” - he goes out to the lava flows here on the island, which are slow moving and accessible, and “plays” with the lava. He described how he would take a shovel and toss lava into the air then catch it with his asbestos gloves and make things with it, meanwhile the other tourists standing around were awed and shocked. He was such a character, and his friend kind of rolled his eyes in apology but I was tickled. He reminded me a lot of Mike, his exuberance, his excitement about life, his storytelling. I told him so, and when he picked up Mike’s little Napoleon Dynamite action figure (yes, that’s how Mike was) and laughed how he loved that too I said hey, please just take it. You are exactly the kind of person I want to walk away with that thing. Now when I remember it, I’ll know who has it, and crack a smile thinking about it.


Next I need to deal with what’s left…the final step in the purge: trips to the dump and Goodwill.


But in the middle of it all, there is something else. Last night I attended a wedding of a beautiful friend here in Kona. Oh my goodness the whole event was just gorgeous, and wonderful. I felt so blessed to be there with so many great friends. But today, as I write this, is Mike’s and my wedding anniversary. August 9. So the entire time during the wedding and reception it was on my mind. Mike and I got married on Maui, it was before we moved to the Big Island of course…it was also a special, beautiful day in a special, beautiful place. I know I will never be able to attend another wedding without crying about my own lost marriage…it will always be hard to see the first dance, to see the happy couple beaming and so thrilled to be starting their life together…of course I am so happy for them, in fact, the bride was widowed years ago too, so she holds a special place in my heart. Maybe, it should give me hope, that life is not over after loss. But for me, it was hard. And today is hard. Today it would have been 17 years. But we never even made it to 14.


I think about how Mike and I would have celebrated. Cards, of course…I have saved every one we gave each other over the years and they are one of the things that will stay with me forever in a special place. Dinner, maybe our favorite sushi. But today, instead I busy myself with more clearing, another trip to the dump, rearranging my house around the empty spaces. I am becoming ready to leave, both physically and spiritually…trying to wrap my head, and heart, around the idea of not living in this special place any longer…focusing on the family I head towards and the reasons why, and that door to this chapter of my life, which is slowly creaking closed.


Showing 5 reactions

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  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2016-08-21 20:45:48 -0700
    Thank you…thank you thank you thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings here. I never cease to be amazed and comforted by the parallels and knowing you all are out there, surviving in your own ways.
  • Linda Tevebaugh Keeling
    commented 2016-08-13 19:07:11 -0700
    Hi Stephanie…just wanted to say that I know how you feel since I have spent my summer doing what you are doing little by little, as you are waiting to find out if you have to move or not.
    I recently remarried and have moved out of my home I had for the last 25 years……as a result, I had to go through EVERYTHING…..all the kid stuff, what was left of the ex-husband’s stuff, and the hardest, next to the kid stuff, my John’s stuff….though married only 5 years before he died unexpectantly…he borught with him to my home all of his stuff from a 25 year marriage that also had ended in divorce……some of his stuff I never saw before…was part of a life long before me….yet to go through those things were painful…because it showed parts of him I wish I had known….and yet sad to look back on the past of someone you loved and had a great marriage with and a start of another life with….and it is all gone…the past…the present …and the future.

    I, like you, was very careful what I did with the most precious of John’s things….things were given to special people, his cherished charities, and special places …I did not sell anything that was his…..I wanted no financial gain from any of his stuff…..
    It was all so emotionally draining….

    And it was a similar thing going through my kids things…yet at a different level….what a shock to learn that my kids….27 and 30…sons…wanted nothing of their childhood….so I kept what I thought was the most heartfelt and plan to come up with a combination of a scrapbook/memory box kind of thing for each of them they may want later….with some other things that might be nice to have when they get married…..all of this was exhausting….I, too, did the garage sale thing…the donation centers…..the recycling system….and the giving away…..and then the actual throwing out in the trash stuff.

    Now, I am trying to make my new home, that my widowered husband shared with his late wife…and making it OUR own…yet trying to incooperate the blend of our stuff…both of which includes items from both of our late spouses….
    Whew!!!!! It has been alot…..

    So…I so get it …in the words you shared…along with your heart….thanks for it all…..
  • Carolyn Thomas
    commented 2016-08-11 22:21:07 -0700
    I am glad you are still writing. We have many life and emotion parallels as I am also widowed about 3 1/2 years. I always nod my head when I read your entries as if Iam talking to you and agreeing with you. Thank you for still writing.
  • Cathy
    commented 2016-08-11 17:26:24 -0700
    Closing the doors on that other life is so hard, isn’t it? Hard to let all those things go that meant so much to them, I keep telling myself they are just things. I’m wanting less and less as time goes on, realizing that what was most important was the love we shared. So many hard dates to face alone, but onward we go. Take care.
  • Lisa Richardson
    commented 2016-08-11 07:25:38 -0700
    Happy Anniversary Stephanie. I can’t share the memory of your special day, but we do share the knowledge of how it feels in this “after” life. It’s so hard but still is a day to be treasured.