I am grateful to have survived it.
Now, I didn’t plan it this way, it just happened. But I realized this was a hard month last year. Actually it pretty much kicked my behind. As soon as the month came in this year, I felt the grief monster approaching. Everybody knows Valentine’s Day is in February. Thomas and I were married six days later on February 20th, so a "would be" wedding anniversary was in the mix. So what did I do? I added to it. Brilliant I know. I moved Elijah into his room because I’d progressed through the mountain of clothing Thomas left enough to order his bed. It came on February 1st and I put it up that night.
Ariana and I divided up Thomas’ hats and neckties and gave them out to fathers I know. There were thirty hats even though I’d already given twenty away. There were seventy neckties even though my stepson had taken some home with him after the funeral. I gave a co-worker nineteen of his suits for her husband, who may be the only man in the world I could find who could wear Thomas' size in both a jacket and pants. It turned out this man was down to one suit and two neck ties because he had given his suits to men who had none.
These were his nicest suits and as I went through them I found a lot of them I brought home.Getting those made him feel good and I was so inept at doing that the last few years, I fell back on that a lot…getting him suits and other clothing. They all went. I kept a couple of dress shirts and sweatshirts, and an overcoat I bought. I’m keeping one suit, the one he was wearing in our last family picture. The one he was buried in is the one he said was his favorite.
So, I completed removal of all of the clothing last month. I found I was almost in desperation mode. Some people find the person’s clothes a source of comfort, and they were at first, but now not so much. I’m keeping some items, but the rest perhaps because of the sheer volume of it, started to feel as if they are closing in on me. He told me he wanted them donated, so I had no doubts about what I was doing. I’ve heard year one is “he’s dead” and year two is “he’s still dead”, and that is how it has been here. There are days I can’t believe it still. There are days I’m really relieved the suffering is over and others where I really want to smack the little stinker for dying on me.
It got real. Oh it’s definitely real. I put Elijah’s name on the door of the room formally known as the man cave and even though some of the clothes were still there, he slept in there for the better part of the first two nights after the bed was up. I put those boxes in a corner as far as I could, then went down to a closet, opened it and found eight more suits. Holy Cow! How did that happen? Yeah, gonna need another box. That will make 8 of U-Haul’s largest boxes. Final removal of the four boxes I had at the end was on February 9th, courtesy of the children's Godfather coming to the house to retrieve them while I was at work.
The month was again threatening to kick my behind, but I figured I’d kick back. Got on facebook and posted about what I was doing and how I remembered getting those suits was how I showed Thomas I was into him. I asked every couple to think back on what they do to show their spouse they’re into them and try to do it up starting this month. Because I know for a long time, I missed and still do miss having someone “into me” and Thomas wanted his struggle to help people. And when asked if I minded what we went through being used for ministry, I was fine with it. A lot of times we didn’t have the tools to make our relationship grow or if we did we couldn’t use them, but for people who do have them, I do truly hope they use them.
It's made more difficult being it is very close to the anniversary of his death. He died seventeen days after our tenth wedding anniversary, seventeen days after he gave me a last speech of hope that I tried unsuccessfully to take in at the moment. All we had left at the end was our friendship, but I still miss that. Reality has set in that he’s not coming back, but it is also setting in that I’m every bit the survivor he was pushing me (sometimes against my will) to be. February still kicked my behind, but not without a fight.
And that other anniversary? Yeah, it's tomorrow.