Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mourning Inanimate Objects: All Aboard the Crazy Train

I have written several posts in the last few years about getting rid of things around my house, whether it was by choice or by force.  The huge TV of my husband's that made us all nauseous to watch:  CHOICE.  The dryer that we bought used when we were first married in 1996 and then had the nerve to croak 13 years later:  FORCE.

Very few people understand what it means to get emotional about a dryer.  It's almost impossible to explain to others how sad we were when we threw away that promotional pen from the dentist's office that dried up, but was our spouse's favorite.  Not everyone gets why we've held on to a broken down chair because getting rid of it would be like abandoning one of our children.

But as we all know, it's hard.  It's like another small death, a piece of our loved ones that we grieve over and over again.  If it were up to me, I would probably have piles of dirt all over my backyard where I've buried and mourned all of these things.  A huge one for the first couch we bought together, but eventually sounded like it was going to break in two every time we sat down on it so I had to replace it.  A small one for the VCR we bought each other as a joint Christmas gift the year we got engaged.  Tiny holes for all of the tools I have gotten rid of throughout the years because I either discovered that we had three of one item or I knew I would never figure out how to use them.

And now, a new object is about to join all that has been lost.

My printer.

Now, I'm not as emotional about the printer as I was about the dryer and I don't know why.  Maybe it's because more time has passed and I've healed a little more or maybe we just weren't as close as the dryer and I were.  But, the truth is...we have been through a lot together. 

When I went to the store to buy a new printer the other day (because my old one died in the flood in my office this summer - my only major casualty), I asked a salesman to help me figure out what I needed.

"I had my old printer for twelve years," I said.  "So I don't even really know what I want."

"Twelve years?" He said in disbelief.  "That is a really long time."

And when he said that, it hit me...all of the things that old printer and I have been through together.

printing baby pictures of my first child
getting my husband through grad school
countless resumes
the eulogy my father-in-law wrote for my husband's funeral
Christmas newsletters
emergency contact forms for the kids
retreat handouts for theWiddahood.com
excerpts of books on their way to getting published

That printer has seen me through the best and worst times in my life.  It has never failed, never jammed, and was always faithful as if to say, "I will always be here for you."

And so this morning I raise my cup of tea to my printer.  You were appreciated and you will be missed.  And I'm sorry that I am not ballsy enough to bury you in the backyard, in a way you should be honored.  Because while I am grateful for you, I am not willing to get committed for you.

My neighbors have witnessed enough and that could be what finally forces them to make that call.


  1. You're an entertaining writer! I'm pretty new to this widow thing, but I have a suggestion to offer. You've probably heard this before...When you have to toss something meaningful, take a photo of it. That will remind you of its meaning, when you want to remember it. But probably you'll be so delirious with how far printers have come in 12 years, that you'll rarely give the old one a thought.

  2. I lost my sister a little over six months ago. I have a closet full of her shoes that don't quite fit (she wore a size larger than me) but I couldn't quite put them in a goodwill box. I'm about to move and need to get rid of things...somehow, I think her shoes will survive the trip and my own will be the ones in a give-away box...

  3. Letting go is one of the hardest things that you could ever try. What you did with your printer is a good choice though. In a practical sense, you’re no longer able to use it because it’s already broken. But on the other hand, I felt sad that you only noticed its existence when you’re about to dispatch it along with the others.

    Dannie @1st-Office.com

  4. I love reading your blog. Thanks so much..it makes me smile ��

  5. What a coincidence that you originally posted this blog on the very day my husband died. And now you've shared it on Facebook today, the day the paperwork has officially been filed for the state to buy the house we built together in order to tear it down and build yet another turnpike. A day that I'm facing these very same feelings almost five years after his death. Thank you for validating what I'm feeling.

  6. This week I was at the hardware store and found myself standing next to a display of maple-syrup making equipment. I remembered my Mom standing with me in the kitchen of the house LH and I had just purchased. It was Mom's and Dad's second visit. Mom said, "Hold out your hand." She placed an odd sort of spigot in it. I couldn't quite identify it. "It's a wallpaper remover," she said. I still didn't get it. "Your father noticed all the maple trees. He suggested you tap them." Dad had also noticed the kitchen had so many layer of wallpaper on it, the corners had rounded off a bit.

    We did tap those trees the next spring. We didn't have a place outdoors to boil off the sap, so every night when we came home, we put the sap back on the stove to boil some more. We made a lot of syrup.

    I finished my errand at the store, got into the car, and cried most of the way to work. Dad died in 2005, Husband in '10,and Mom in '13.

    1. So the steam from making the syrup, removed the wallpaper?

  7. "Because while I am grateful for you, I am not willing to get committed for you." LOL! This I get! ({{hugs}}} I had a flood this summer too, burst pipe. Not 'a lot' of damage,but because I live in a mobile home, the floor covering (I'm getting laminate to replace the carpet) is mostly one big room so it's all or nothing to replace. To do this I have to pack up everything and even take all my pictures and things off the walls. Someone suggested taking pictures, so I could put it all back. Not going to do that, when it goes up, it will be 'my' home. I'm not eliminating everything, but more and more, my home is becoming an expression of me, not 'us'. Many moments of indecision and memories. Thank you!

  8. You are SO right! My husband died 6 years ago and I could not throw away anything he had handwritten. It was like he had left a little bit of himself behind. I walk through the house and see all the things I never use that he enjoyed. I go into the garage and realize that not only do I not use the power "stuff", I don't even know HOW to use it. Thanks for this great article. Glad to know I'm not the only one.