Maybe in a way it’s like I put my grief in there too, and when I found it sitting, buried under a heap of all the things I hadn’t made time to sort out yet, after taking everything out, laying strewn around my small space, I dealt with the pieces, one by one, until that suitcase was the only thing left without a place.
At the back of the closet, it sat for, em, two years now I believe. I had transferred the contents at some point from the old vintage suitcase to a different suitcase, a newer one.
At first, I took some of the pieces out, lay them aside thinking I’d use them. Felt at first like I was being wasteful, you know?
I lay aside the pyjamas he had worn, his favourite shirts, the things that reminded me most of him, at first separated into two piles. One to a thrift store, the other to keep.
Tears welled, then were gone, I smiled at the flashes that each piece brought to me, and threw each and every single goddamn piece of his clothing in the garbage, one by one.
Who wants to wear a dead man’s clothes?
These pieces, as I said, were the last remnants of a man who had almost made me an addict, who was narcissistic, a liar, a cheat, a thief, and someone I had truly loved, faults and all. Had seen him through right to the end, the bitter, painful end, laying in that hospital bed in that intimate place, rare familiarity within what normally would have none, but such is the difference of a small town hospital to the big ones I’d experienced before.
Oh, death is best in intimate places, ideally, with those we love surrounding us, holding space while we pass if we’re lucky. And for whatever reason that sometimes escapes my grasp, Tim was worthy of such a passing, as are we all, faults and all. If only life were fair.
Yet it is not, and Tim had never been fair, yet I saw him through to the end, even so.
As he withered away, slowly becoming engulfed by cancer that raged through his frail frame, as the great sleep came upon him, and I refused to wait by his side for the death rattle.
So I went home, went home to sleep, myself. Awoken at 3 AM, and in those pyjamas that lay in the garbage bag, he took those last breaths, and he was released, as was I.
Yet I had taken these bits with me, here. I had packed them up and sentimentally kept them hidden away, slowly becoming buried in the heaps, the old receivers, old speakers, old jackets, old, the unused, the I don’t know what to do with you, the I may need this, all of it piled into that closet that lay within the staircase, on those steps that lead to nowhere.
I am free.
And now so was he.
What now? I said to no one, as no one is here. I am on my own. Only myself, well, and Irish. And a closet with less of the things I don’t know what to do with, most of it I guess I do, or believe me, it wouldn’t still be in there. The opportunity that all that space now gives me, making room for new things, better things, or just the next things, regardless, there is room for them. Finally.
And all the brutal truths he tried to deny, in the open. Finally. The lies, the ego, his fear, his inability to cope with the truth, with his past, with his choices, they are dead with him, now. Finally.
The confinement of thinking that getting what you want is the epitome of happiness, when in fact it is our prison.
That grief unpacked, released, and now on its way to the dump.
Now that closet is manageable. It can now be used for things I want to keep, and not for things I don’t know what to do with. Not to say I believe I’m actually completely free of keeping things around I don’t know what to do with, but now I have room for more of the things that are TRULY important. Truly worthy of keeping, and not just out of grief, sentiment, memories, and thinking I had to do it the right way, to pack them up and send them off so someone else can wear a dead man’s clothes. I meant well, I usually always do.
It is a blessing, as well as a curse, I suppose.
I recognize it though, and that is significant. A lesson really. After it all, the things I carry with me, my gunny sac, is lighter.