It’s been nearly 8 years now since I became a Widow. Some days it feels like just yesterday and others it feels like forever. Some days it is horrible and I miss him dreadfully, some days I go about my business as if I have lived this way forever.
But his memory is always right there, following me around, watching my every move. Sometimes I feel like I can turn around and he will be right there behind me, standing there watching as I go about my daily tasks. Even after 8 years I can feel his breath on my cheek as we sleep.
I can smell how the bathroom would smell after his shower…the distinct smell of Head and Shoulders shampoo and Black Suede aftershave. I have these senses ingrained deep into my memories, yet I still hold on to the material things as if they help keep those memories alive.
Truth is, his shirts still hang in the closet. His coats still hang next to mine in another closet. In the beginning, it was just too painful to think about doing anything with them. Years went by and it was just easier not to think about all those shirts hanging there. I don’t use that closet so I rarely even see them.
If I pull them out, will they open a flood gate of pain that I just can’t deal with? I don’t know the answer to that, so maybe that is why I just leave them there. The thing is, I was discussing holding onto material things with a friend earlier. I made a statement about how material things don’t hold memories, our hearts and mind do. Sounds good, right? So, why can’t I bring myself to get rid of those shirts?
Maybe because it is an actual physical part of him that is still here with me? Even though I hardly ever see them or touch them, I know they are there and that I could even pull one of the hanger and wrap it around me if I wanted to. You can’t do that with a memory no matter how badly you want to.
I have given a few of them to my grandsons. I was okay with that because I was used to my sons or grandsons raiding his closet when he was alive. I took comfort in knowing his sons or grandsons were out and about, wearing one of his shirts. But the rest of them that still hang there?
I could donate them, but I cringe at the thought of strangers wearing his clothes, as awful as that sounds. Throwing them in the trash is an even worse thought! So, they hang there because I am just not comfortable with any of the other options.
I have known Widows who get rid of their spouse’s clothing right away and that is okay. I also know Widows like me, who just leave the clothes hang there for reasons of their own. There is no “right time” to empty his side of the closet…at least not in a certain time frame.
Don’t let anyone else tell you it’s time to empty the closet. Only you can decide that …until then, just know that many Widows have “Memories in the Closet.” We are here for you, whatever you need, whenever you need…