|Devon and Rob, Halloween, 2003|
Rob's death has taught me to appreciate things evolving in their own time. Last Saturday I packed the many pairs of pants and shirts Rob had hanging in our closet. Nothing smelled like him. And how could it? Everything had been washed and pressed and waiting. The last five months of his life found him wearing hospital gowns more than his own clothes and even when he could wear his own clothes they were ones bought since he had been diagnosed with cancer. I got rid of the 'sick clothes' a few days after he died.
So now I have several bags collected for charity and Dawn, a friend and neighbor texted me the contact for a Vietnam Veterans group who will come to our home to take the donation. I thanked her but I have not made the call.
Downstairs in the office Rob and I shared are all of Rob's winter coats. I remember last July when he decided to get a jump on the next year by having his winter coats and parkas dry cleaned. He brought them in from his car and hanged everything in the downstairs closet. He never had an occasion to wear even one coat as he spent the bit of winter he saw in hospitals and being transported by ambulance when he finally did come home to die. Coats were never needed.
I wouldn't be lying if I said I can't bear the thought of even being downstairs, let alone opening the closet door and seeing more of what I have lost and what Rob can never have. I avoid as best I can even going downstairs, choosing to walk outside to get to the garage most of the time. A pair of sandals Rob wore last August still sit by his desk. They have been left exactly as he must have taken them off. I can see him doing this--an act he had done over and over again. I remember his feet in the sandals--the width of each foot, how carefully he kept his toenails trimmed. Details only a wife would know.
Eventually I'll call the Vets, but I'm not ready for the packed shirts and pants to leave the house. I have lost more than I could ever calculate. There are still more clothes and books that defy counting and bit by bit I will get to them.
But not today. And that's the lesson I heed now. I am slower. I need to be.