Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Packing and Purging: Do Normal People Cry Over Old Phone Bills?

In the last few weeks, I've been dealing with what a lot of you have already been through:  the ordeal of packing up my house and getting it ready to sell.

I've been in the fortunate position these last seven years of not being forced to leave and being able to make this choice when it's the right time.  And it is the right time - in many ways, I'm ready for a new chapter and to not be in a house that has always been ours.  It's time to move into a space that is mine, a home where I can see myself raising my kids and being comfortable in after they've left the nest.


It's a process.  Throughout the last seven years, I've done a lot of purging and packing, trying to slowly move myself forward.  And again, I've been fortunate that I've been able to do this on my own timeline and not anyone else's. 

So, when I started the major purging last week, I braced myself every morning for what I might find.  The work was exhausting, not just because it was so physical, but it took an emotional toll as well (which was probably worse).  And for the most part, I did okay.  I already knew that I was ready to get rid of our oh-so-classy college shot glass collection (yes, I did keep a few for shooter emergencies) and I can't say I was all that teary when I packed up a huge skull beer mug that we got when we were in Vegas.

It was silly stuff - or what would be silly stuff to other people.  My hands shook when I found an old phone bill of Brad's from college, meaningless paperwork to someone else but it was part of his life.  Who did he talk to?  Was it me? And then remembering how hard we had to work to talk to each other during the time of long distance calls and shared dormitory phones.  Was that during this life or a previous one?  It's hard to tell sometimes.

His old report cards from the Air Force Academy.
An expense report from a business trip.
A small photo album that had his friends' senior pictures in it.
Photos of him and his high school girlfriend (okay, that I could part with pretty easily).
Don't get me started on his tools.  AGAIN.

All of these little things.  Junk to some, but found treasure to me. 

I think it hit me on about Day Three of packing - I was digging deep in the back of my desk drawer and I found an old Valentine's Day card.  The tears began to fall and didn't stop the rest of the day.  I cried at the gas station.  I cried in the bathroom.  I cried just about any moment I stood still and sniffled when I wasn't crying.  It was one of those good ones, you know?  When you just know you're getting stuff out that needs to come out.  It just came and came, not in a sob, but a good solid cry.

And that's okay.

My therapist asked me the other day what I can do through this process to honor Brad and still move forward.  And I knew what she meant, but I didn't really have an answer for her.  The kids and I went through a lot together and they helped me figure out what they thought was worth keeping and what they didn't.  I needed that because a lot of what I keep is for them, so they'll know their dad.

Anyway, I've been thinking about my therapist's question this last week and the truth is that there is no hard and fast way that I can honor Brad through this process, mainly because I feel like I honor him by how I live every day.  And I think he would understand why I'm making this move and that I'm not leaving one of piece of him behind - he's coming with me in this life wherever I go.


 I'm sorry we couldn't be together, too.


  1. The things that make you cry! I was helping a colleague find videos of brides walking themselves down the aisle (because that's what her daughter is doing), and I stumbled on one of a mom walking her daughter. I fell apart realizing that will be me and my daughter someday, now that my husband has passed away. Stupid youtube.

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  3. My husband died in November, so things are still pretty raw. I've gotten to the point where I still cry every day, but at least I'm not crying all day. I never know what will set me off. On Friday, a woman in my office announced that she and her husband were celebrating their 43rd wedding anniversary. That started a general conversation where all the married women chimed in with how many years they'd been married. All of a sudden, I couldn't hold back the tears. My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary but we didn't make it to our 21st.

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