I have been meaning to blog for some time now. Yet it always seems that when I would start to write the first paragraph in my head it would be in the middle of the afternoon. Not the best time for me to blog. It’s almost impossibly to write something meaningful when three kids are constantly climbing on me. The more days that past the more I felt myself pulling farther away from my blog. Not wanting to write. instead I wanted to just live my life for a bit. Then I decided to do some cleaning. More like cleaning out of some “old” things. Old ideas I guess. Not just in the physical sense but also in mind and even in heart as well. As I did my cleaning out, I kept thinking to myself. “You need to write about this.” By the time the end of the day would come, I found myself just dropping into bed. To tired to move, to tired to think, let alone type. Now that the clutter has been decluttered on the outside… and some of the dust has settled, I find myself wanting to write about my recent experience. It feels almost like closing a chapter of old grief, only to open a new chapter of grief… This grief is new to me, and old to me. The memories are the same but the way I feel them is different. It’s old crazy and new crazy all at the same time.
Two weeks ago Aryanna asked me to get her bike out of “jenga.” Some of you may know this was no small feat. For days I had been telling her ” Later Aryanna” or even ” Mommy can’t reach it” But I knew that I couldn’t avoid it any longer. Spring had sprung, which meant kids wanting to be outside, riding bikes, blowing bubbles, and sidewalk chalk. Those are all great things. However, they are not so great things when one has to climb under, over and through the random chaos of my garage tagged as “Jenga.” With the help of *J, we started what ended up being a 9 day process. We spent 9 days inside the garage. Taking things out and going through them one by one. One box after another. Things to get rid of, things to throw out, things that were meant to be kept, and things that were meant for someone else to keep. Many truck loads to the good will. Many truck loads to the dumpster. One day I came home from taking Petey to school and there were two men standing in my driveway just looking around at all the stuff. I came to an immediate stop in my cul de sac and was like “uh hello… what are you doing?” They looked at me and said “How much for this?” I said… ” I’m not having a garage sale.. I am cleaning out my garage!” Then they got all embarrassed “OH!” they said, So I looked at the driveway full of the many random piles, and thought well, I will show them the good will pile: it will save us a trip. So, they ended up taking a car seat and a sit and stand stroller. Believe me, they weren’t the only ones who stopped to ask about the stuff in the driveway. At one point I wanted to put a sign out that said “NO, this is not a garage sale.. Keep driving!”
This was 6 years worth of stuff. 6 years of my life with Pete, and two years without him. It was all the stuff that he had with me, and it was all of his stuff that I couldn’t go through, after he died. Stuff of his that I just put in a box and put in the attic, or out in jenga, to go through at another time. Box after box of things of his I had never seen. The questions, and the wonders. Thinking things like” Roo, what had you planned to do with 30 years of magazine subscriptions. Seriously! Why did you keep all of these magazines.. what were you going to do with them?” So many boxes that we opened were full of just magazines. Go Kart magazines, Model car magazines, Mini Trucking magazines, Engineering magazines, Art catalogs.. really the list of magazines goes on and on. Boxes of just these magazines. Then there were questions like “When did you build this model car? Why didn’t you finish it?” Those were some of the hard ones. Seeing the things he had started to build or create. Knowing that he wasn’t coming back to finish them. There were boxes of pictures of people that I didn’t know, and he wasn’t there for me to ask “How old were you when you did this?” or “Who was this guy? How did you know him?” Some of the pictures I came across I knew who they were and it made me smile and laugh. There were things from his college years. Books, notes, and people; parts of him that I didn’t know about because I hadn’t met him yet. They were like opening boxes of him. Pieces that I didn’t know and wished I had.
Not only were there things in those boxes of places and people that I never met. But, there were things in some of those boxes that I didn’t know he kept. Little notes that I had written to him when we were first dating. Pictures of us, notes that he had written to me and then scribbled out. At one point I found his glove box from his truck. It was locked.. which again I found myself asking “hey Roo, why would you lock it, it’s not even in your car. :)” We broke into it, and I found spark plugs, a tire gauge, a mileage log and a poem he started writing to me. A poem about the way I made him feel. It were these notes that I had so wanted to find right after he died. I can remember writing about and thinking about notes that I knew he had to have written. I wanted so badly to see something, feel something, hold something that he had written to me about the way he loved me. But I couldn’t find them then. I was looking in the wrong places. I was looking in places that I thought if it were me, I would leave them. Not where he would leave them. He life and his creations took place in that garage. I am not saying that these things were just out in the open. I had to dig for them, but I found them. I knew they were there, I just wasn’t meant to find them then. I was meant to find them two weeks ago. It was after he died that I needed to just go by faith that he loved me. To remember then how hard he worked to stay alive. But it was in those 9 days did I learn so much about Pete the layers of him that I knew and yet I didn’t know the depths of it all.
There are two boxes that stand out the most to me. And I have been through many boxes. The first box was of things that I had kept of Pete and I when we were first dating. Ticket stubs to a baseball game, notes, a photograph of us, just random odds and ends. I remember sitting there opening that box and taking things out and just looking at them. After going through that box the tears came. There was no warning,, they just started falling from my eyes. Tears that were warm and wet rolling down my cheeks like drops of rain. I stood up and walked into *J’s arms and I stood there with him. Nothing to say. No words, just memories that flooded through me and out of me. It was these memories that were now tears dripping down my face. I wiped my face, took a deep breath and said.. “bring me another box.”
It wasn’t until the next night that we started in on the boxes in the attic. We waited until evening to work in the attic. By night time it had started to cool down so the attic wasn’t like a sauna. *J said to me “these boxes say wedding on them.. do you want to go through them?” I knew these boxes were up there. I had been prepared for it all day. So I said “Bring em on down. I’m ready. The first box of “wedding stuff” wasn’t too bad. I was feeling confident. It was the next box that did me in. I opened the lid and looked inside. Everything in it was wrapped in newspaper. So I picked up the first object and started to unwrap. As I opened the last piece, I sucked in the whole room. I felt light headed. It’s that feeling you get when you watch a scary movie and something catches you off guard. The feeling where your whole body goes completely numb and yet is all tingly, its scary but you can’t look away. It was a figurine I had given him after Petey was born. It was one of those Willow Tree figurines of a Mother and a Father holding a baby. It felt hot in my hands as if it was burning a hole in my palm. I carefully dropped it into the box. The memories of what was in that box started coming into my mind like the opening of flood gates. I remembered. I knew what was in this box. I knew what was wrapped inside of those newspapers. But I couldn’t stop myself. I was unwrapping them, I had to see them, I didn’t want to, but I couldn’t look away. Another Willow Tree was a father holding a baby on his lap. Another Willow Tree of a couple dancing. There was a maroon bear that had a bow in her hair that Pete had given to me for Valentines day. I finally stopped, I wrapped up the last item put it back in the box put the lid on and said “put this box in the keep pile, and hand me another one.” On it went. The next box was of his clothes. I pulled out my favorites and things that I knew he loved. I would pull out the things I wanted and put them in a box close the lid on the rest and move onto another box. I was on auto pilot. I didn’t let myself feel. I had felt enough for that night. The stimulation was too great, the loss to monumental, and yet I felt like I was just thinking, :just one more box and then I am done, like if i could just keep swimming I might reach the shore. Just one more box, just one more box.
I finally went to bed. The next morning after taking the kids to school. I looked at *J and said “I can’t go through another box of his today. I want you to go through it, If you see something I might like pull it out for me. But I can’t go through another box today. I had, had it. I just couldn’t stand to be inside that garage any longer. I needed to get out. Go through another section. I didn’t want to look through the things, and feel the loss of the life I had before. To feel, to think, to wonder, to worry, to whisper, to question. I couldn’t process, any. more. Maybe that is why it has taken me almost two and a half weeks for me to write about it.
After 9 days in the garage. I now have a very nice and orderly garage. Jenga is no more. My attic is even clean. Aryanna, Petey, and Chase Leo can now get all their toys out without the fear of something falling on their heads or something crashing to the ground. It may still be the same garage but it does’t look the same. It doesn’t feel the same..
The way my body handles stimulation over load is for my skin to break out into hives. It’s like I have so many emotions and toxins all at once. It doesn’t know what to do. So since I can’t seem to let out the emotional side of it, it does it for me. These days I am feeling extra crazy and extra itchy. However, I feel good about the things I went through. I made it! I am still breathing! I am not a puddle in the corner. *J didn’t have to resuscitate me. I still made dinner, and bathed the kids, and played outside, and did the laundry, and fed the dog. I cleaned out the garage!! But I also cleaned out my stuff too. The things I didn’t need to hold onto. I just kept thinking of all the people I was blessing while getting rid of the things I no longer needed to hold on to. It’s the standing on the other side of it that makes me go “Ya know.. I didn’t break.” It was hard emotionally and physically, but I learned some things I didn’t know. And I found the things that I needed to find. Not only did I find the love and passion of a man that I loved so deeply. I found the proof, to the things that I already knew. I held them in my hand and I breathed in the scent of them. I felt like I had found the key. But it’s the realization, that I already had the key. I knew he loved me and yet I didn’t know to the depths of his love for me. But, it’s finding those things of his and finding all the ways that he loved me. It makes me feel like maybe, I am not so crazy after all. I was crazy before, during, and after the time he knew me, and he loved me anyway. I was lost and vulnerable. I didn’t know how to stand on my own. But he saw it in me then, and I know he still see’s it in me now. Because I see it now too. I just couldn’t see it before.
After losing him I couldn’t see anything. However, after going through all of those boxes, feeling those emotions, and those memories with such intensity. I see a lot more that I ever did before. I am proud of me, I am proud of *J and I am proud of Pete. I may be the same kind of crazy, but it’s mixed in with new crazy. It may also be the same old grief but it has a new flare to it. It’s like layers and some of them are crazier and weepier than others. But, I need them all to make it through. This journey, this crazy, this Pete, and this life are what make up the essence of me. I am realizing that I have the infinity of strength. It’s written inside me,and it’s written on me. Pete knew it, and now I do too.