|Rob and Max in Maine|
I must force myself to look upon the familiar things, the coat hanging on the chair, the hat in the hall… To ease the pain I took over some of his things for myself. I wore his shirts, sat at his writing desk, used his pens to acknowledge the hundreds of letters of condolence; and by the very process of identification with the objects he had touched, felt the closer to him. —Daphne du Maurier
I decided to pack Rob's shoes this afternoon. Devon helped and one pair of cowboy boots and an odd slipper that we both agreed Rob would not have liked were left when we finished. I asked Devon to put the cowboy boots in the bag with other pairs of shoes and I threw the slipper away. Rob purchased the Lucchese handmade boots on a business trip we made to San Antonio--a year or so before we married.
I was surprised when Rob returned to our hotel room from an afternoon with some other men attending the conference and showed me the boots.
"You're from Brooklyn. You work in Hell's Kitchen. Cowboy boots?"
He looked at the boots and then me and then at the boots again before he explained how his father and Buddy had gotten boots. "I may have gotten carried away," he told me, laughing at his own folly.
As I write this I am wearing one of Rob's flannel shirts--a Campbell plaid, I think. At first, Rob would get annoyed when I took one of his shirts to wear. This surprised me.
"You have shirts of your own," he said to me.
"It makes me feel wrapped up in you," I explained and he looked surprised at first and it wouldn't be until much later--years later--that I realized how this gesture of love baffled him. He hadn't known a lot of love before. Across the decades we helped each other to deepen and complicate our understandings of love.
Friends, well intending, ask, "How are you doing?" Honestly, I have no clear response as the sadness I feel seems to be without limit. I read there are five stages to grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance (Kubler-Ross). But grief is not about stages. Rather, grief works more like a Klein bottle, fully immersing while being non-orientable. I am still shocked by the illness and death of my husband.
I can recall him last July making a commitment to walk in order to lose some weight.
I can remember him joking with Devon's friends who spent a week with us in August, a mere week before the diagnosis.
And I can still remember him tucking those boots away in the closet of our bedroom and confessing later that they weren't as comfortable as he first thought.
I can remember.