I have been slowly going thru the process of going thru Donnie’s things. Hell it was 7 months before I could throw out just his toothbrush. It’s a lot harder with everything else. I know that it is part of the grieving process. I know letting go of Donnie’s “things” is a part of acceptance. Accepting that he isn’t coming home. There is that Damn word acceptance again. It’s been haunting me for a while now.
There is something about knowing and “knowing”. It sounds crazy to most but it’s true. Letting go of Donnie’s stuff is me knowing and accepting that he won’t be back. Most of his stuff has been in the same place for the last 40 weeks. Hasn’t moved. Clothes in his closet and in his dresser. I don’t go in there, but I knew that it was there. I did take a good bit out of his closet for the kids blankets but for the most part, it stayed the same. I still have the same box sitting there from when my brother cleaned out his work truck. Everything that was his that was in that truck, still sits in that box, untouched. I still have the box of personal items that came from his office too. It still sits in the same place that it was since I brought it home. Maybe I haven’t had the desire to go thru those things because that was a different part of Donnie that I really didn’t know.
I seemed to have really reached a turning point since the holidays of wanting to be happy again. Finding a way to move on with my life. Maybe that is why I have decided that it was time to start going thru his things.
I had already changed the house so much. I had to. Although it was “our house” . I had to make it “mine”. If I didn’t, I don’t think I could live there. It wasn’t that I was trying to take Donnie out of the house. I just knew that it hurt too much to leave it the same. I had to make it “mine.” So I did. I painted and then I painted some more and changed a lot. There are still memories of Donnie there but the house is “mine” now. It has to be.
Going thru his things is another step in making the house mine. I started with his dresser last week. I couldn’t bear to part with his LSU socks. I gave them to Justin. Then came his shorts. Anyone who knew Donnie knew that he rarely wore pants. The shorts were going to be tough to get rid of. I stood there with the bag in my hands, I took the shorts out of the dresser. As I took each pair out, I could picture Donnie standing there in front of me. Putting them in the bag was hard. Harder than I could have ever imagined. I think the only way I can describe it is this,, they are only “things” but these “things” are all that is physical that you have left of the person that you lost. They are the only things that you can actually put your hands on and touch. They are your last physical contact to that person. And getting rid of those things is like getting rid of a part of the person that you lost and you are losing a connection to them. I know it sounds stupid and completely crazy but I guess that is the only way I can make sense of it. I kept telling myself as I put each pair of shorts in the bag, they are only shorts, but my mind kept saying “ but they are Donnie’s shorts”. Silly as it is as the last pair went into the bag and I tied it up, I cried. I cried for all of it, for loving him, for losing him and now for feeling like I was saying goodbye to him all over again. Getting rid of his clothes is the final step in letting him go.
Then came the kicker. In the top of Donnie’s dresser was a stack full of greeting cards. Birthday cards, anniversary cards, just because cards, Valentines cards. I think it was every card I had given Donnie over the last 4 or 5 years. He had all of them right there at his fingertips. I knew that we had some older ones but I didn’t realize that he had kept so many of them and thought so much of them to keep them so close to him.
When I finished his dresser I had 2 large garbage bags there, full. Now what? Now what do I do with them? They sat in the same spot in front of that dresser for 2 days.
Shantel came in the room and asked me, What is that? I told her. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said in shock “you are getting rid of them?!?” Wow, dagger to the heart. I told her yes, that I had to. I had to so I could move on with my life. He can’t use them anymore . She said “I know”. I told her I was sorry . It can’t stay the same . Tears in her eyes she looks at me and says “ I just miss him’ Yeah baby, I know. I just miss him too. But all in all, she knew, she understood. We all miss him. But they want me to be happy again.
2 days later when I got off of work, I went to see him. I talked to him. Like I always have. I told him how much I missed him. But I told him that I was trying. I told him that I know that he wants me to be happy and that I want to be happy and I am taking steps to be happy again and that I know that is what he wanted and that I know that he would understand.
I went home and laid in my bed and I cried. And I cried some more. And then I dried my eyes and got up, grabbed the bags and across the street into the goodwill dumpster they went. It was bittersweet. It was sad to let go of them but it was a release at the same time. I don’t know if that even makes any sense. I need a clean slate to start over in my life. I guess this is just part of me wiping the slate clean. All of his things don’t connect me to him. My heart does. I don’t need those things anymore. I have accepted that he is in my heart and will always be. Holding onto material things doesn’t keep him there. My love for him does.
Perhaps our eyes need to be washed by our tears once in a while, so that we can see Life with a clearer view again.
So one major step for me. I still have those work boxes to go thru and I need to finish going thru his closet. I know it won’t be easy but I know it is what I need to do. It is my way of letting go.
Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.