About Me

My wonderful husband died when I was 44 years old. Being widowed this young happens to less than 3% of married people. Writing through this loss one word at time helps me understand what I've lost and helps me continue to grow. It is how I have gradually recovered from such a severe loss. Research shows that you can benefit from taking just 15 minutes a day to write out your deepest feelings as a way of healing. On the right side of this blog, you'll see a tag for Exercises to Try. If you need some help knowing how to use writing to help heal yourself, I suggest you start there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cleaning the Garage of Grief

Sigh. Then there are the moments when the dead feel really, really, really, really far away. Really gone. Really dead. Really not here anymore. Really not influencing daily life anymore. Really not living. Not here. Gone. Dead. Irrelevant. Missing in action. Not a husband, not a father, not a friend, not someone who can lend you any kind of warm hand anymore.

This is not my favorite part of grief. This is just sad. This just makes me screw up my mouth in a nasty kind of shape while I'm typing. This is a feeling of complete and utter impotence. There is nothing I can do.

The other day I was looking at my cleaned out garage that used to hold all kinds of stuff that belonged to Ken. One of my handymen, as a favor, just came one day and took everything out of my garage as a surprise. I came outside, and there was everything I hadn't dealt with in a long time in a great big heap, waiting for my direction. Not just some of Ken's things, but also "garage stuff" that I just don't deal with out of a kind of sexist, that's not my territory, that's man's work,  kind of attitude. That garage really looked neglected, and it was. I am not a woman of the garage.

It was a weird kind of favor, being forced to deal with all that stuff on the spot. Piles. And you know what I did? I let almost everything go. Just let it go. See ya stuff.

The other day I drove my white Prius into the now pristine, clean garage. I got out. I looked around. And I said out loud within the now visible walls of the garage, to myself, and to Ken: "I'm sorry that I couldn't keep you alive." As if those dusty boxes in the garage were who Ken was.

Of course, that was just one experience and one set of feelings in the garage of grief. Of course, I do keep Ken alive. Only, I am better at keeping him alive by writing about what he meant to me and by talking about him with people who knew him, and by keeping pictures of him around, and by mentioning his name aloud to my kids and to friends and family who miss him like I do. I'm not so good at remembering him through his stuff. That's not where he is to me.

I find Ken is in the places where I'm now more patient, more kind and more understanding. Ken dwells where I am peaceful and not angry. Ken lives in my contentment and in my appreciation for what I have. He lives in our children. When I have compassion, there is Ken. When I let worries fly by instead of roost on my shoulders, Ken has made an appearance.

He is not in the garage. Not for me. The garage is where I park my car. Ken is where I feel better knowing that he lived and where I am better because he did.


Carol David said...

Nice one Jill. And I completely agree about stuff - it doesn't keep the person alive. You keep them alive, or they keep themselves alive, inside you.
I miss him too, and it's a nice picture.

Anonymous said...

My garage is on my to do list, and I really can relate to what you wrote. My husband could fix anything and our garage was completely his turf. I don't even know what most of the stuff is, but my 10 year old son wants to keep it all.

jenny_o said...

This is such a good and warm tribute to your husband and his legacy in your life. Wouldn't the world be a better place if we could all leave such a mark on our loved ones after we are gone.

Jill Schacter said...

That's a lovely comment Jenny o. Thanks for reminding me of the warmth that's still there by seeing it in my words.

Allen Green said...

I could not part with Karen's 1997 Mazda Protege car, even though i hated the manual shift. Woke up one morning in October and decided I could part with it. Maybe because I hated the stick so much and "had enough" of torturing myself. So, that Saturday, I traded it in for an automatic Kia Optima. It was hard to let go, but I did.