Friday, June 14, 2013
Sifting and Sorting
I took it upon myself to take apart Jack's room. It was my choice, yet it was still unbelievably difficult. I do not recommend doing this before it's absolutely necessary. And for some, it could be fine to leave things exactly where they are forever. When my mom died, I took 10 years before I was ready, and I resented anyone telling me I should do it sooner. It was their problem, trying to control my actions and responses, not mine.
As you know, our family motto is, "The best things in life aren't things," and as I moved Jack's things and boxed many of them up, I wept, not over the objects, but over the hands that had arranged them just so. A Lego creation is just a Lego creation when I've moved it to a box, whereas when it's set up on a shelf, in a funny little tableau that tells a story, it's part of Jack.
I moved the new school shoes that had been waiting by his bedroom door, yet never got worn. They look so small now, even though they were slightly too large for him when I bought them. His friend Cortland came over to help me carry boxes. He knew how much Jack treasured his Legos, and he handled them with reverence and care. When I looked down and saw Cortland's enormous man-feet I bit the inside of my cheek to try to keep from crying. It didn't work.
I packed scout and baseball uniforms and butter-soft t-shirts, rubbing the fabric between my fingers, lifting them to my face in a futile attempt to catch a scent now long gone.
I found all his baby clothes and the baby calendar where I'd proudly written down when he said his first word, "Bird," at barely 7 months old. And I sifted through school work, which he'd kept neatly in a plastic tub, every single stitch of it, preschool through 6th grade. Every paper, every project, every doodle.
There was a lot of yearning, remembering, and loving as I did this. As I allowed myself many trips to the recycling bin for the things I didn't end up saving. I leaned over the trashcan-- full of notebooks, and binders and papers and things my son no longer needed-- and the heavy lid came crashing down on my cheek. Tears sprang up again as a pink welt formed. Really? Really?
I made a ton of progress last Thursday, due mainly to the fact that my friend Cindy showed up unannounced and with boxes. We matched each Lego set to its instructions and original box (thanks for being a saver, Jack!) and we cried. It was Margaret's last day of school and I wanted to do the hardest part, the Legos, while she was gone. "Did you take pictures of the order everything was in?" she asked when she got home and surveyed the empty shelves. "Yes." "Good."
After she was in bed, I did what any mentally and physically exhausted mom does, vacuumed the shit out of the family room rug. I ran the vacuum roughly back and forth, jerking it this way and that in frustration. But the stupid vacuum wasn't working and was dropping stuff right back out again. I took it to the kitchen to empty it over the trash can and investigate. When I pulled the bottom off, a square piece of paper blocked the suction. Three words in my messy handwriting, that I must have jotted down at some point when pondering Jack, my book, this life:
Love never ends.
I do believe this. With my whole heart. You can too.