Easter Sunday was a very sad day for me. I was missing the joy that typically follows Good Friday. By Monday I had rebounded a little but something still didn’t feel right. Over the last couple of weeks, I had added some “Loretta touches” to the house with a new kitchen table set, and new curtains, benches and accent tables for the bathroom and bedroom, all of which I loved! On Wednesday I had shared an extraordinary lunch with new friend Christina Herman and an awesome dinner with old friend Sylvia Barnes Craig and was bouncing back to my joyous self. But there was one thing I realized late this week that I was obviously avoiding doing. I needed to clean out the closets in my bedroom and the foyer, where Tim had kept most of his clothes. It was a project that was a long time coming! I stayed up late last night (Friday) grading my grad students discussion posts and updating my website with upcoming speaking engagements so that today I could focus on the closets and whatever emotions would come while accomplishing that task.
Was I ready for the task? Turns out I was. I had given away to close family and friends some of Tim’s most treasured articles of clothing right after his death as many of them visited, but there was still lots of items remaining in the closets. As I sorted through everything, I had every possible emotion. While folding Tim’s golf sweaters and shirts, I could visualize him hitting some of his most famous shots on the various golf courses I went to with him. I always drove the golf cart and took pics and video as he played so he could focus on his swing. I laughed and cried at those memories.
As I put his casual and dress shoes and two pairs of cowboy boots in a bag for charity I remembered all of the security-related and black-tie events I had to attend during my six years on the ASIS International Board of Directors. He always wanted to ensure that he looked professional enough to escort me to every function we attended. I could picture Tim doing his few dance steps in those cowboy boots and I laughed hysterically. I hugged his hiking shoes as I remembered the three amazing weeks we spent in Utah with Kim and Kendal celebrating his 65th birthday. I even stopped sorting items to look at my favorite Utah pics to savor once again the memories we made.
But it was the pair of boots with the tags still on them that Tim never wore that made me cry the most. They were the rain / mud boots we bought at the outdoor store right down the street from the campground in Herkimer, NY, the place where Tim died. I cried because we never got to splash around in the mud at the campground diamond mine where we were supposed to work for 30 days. But after that cry, I put the boots in the bag and felt a huge sense of calm. I believe that calmness is another turning point for me because there are a couple of things I know for sure… I know I will splash around at a campground in the rain or mud in my boots that I bought at the same time as Tim bought his and when I do, Tim will be with me. I know that now that I am just two weeks away from my first trip in my new RV I named Joy that I’ll be making memories that would make Tim incredibly proud.
Cleaning out the closets today has freed me in a sense. I knew that I’d often walk quickly past the foyer avoiding looking at all of the clothes and shoes in that closet because a sense of dread had built up in me. Part of me felt like I was waiting for him to come back to wear those clothes again AND another part of me felt as if I was giving Tim away if I took the clothes out of the closets. Now that the job is done, I feel lighter and free of any guilt. Now I think of the men who may dance around in Tim’s cowboy boots, or may stay dry in the rain wearing one of his water repellant golf jackets and boots or staying warm in one of several bright orange sweaters. I hope that whomever ends up with all of the great things that came out of these closets will laugh loud or love hard just like Tim! It was time, and I did it and of course I now realize that cleaning out the closets hasn’t diminished my love for Tim one bit! I hope that if you have a closet to clean out or a task your avoiding, that you’ll feel inspired to tackle it soon! It may feel better than you think!
Loretta, another wondrous post. Thank you.
I particularly reflect on your words: “Part of me felt like I was waiting for him to come back to wear those clothes again AND another part of me felt as if I was giving Tim away if I took the clothes out of the closets. Now that the job is done, I feel lighter and free of any guilt.” Such are the deep emotions of death and grief.
I’m happy for you on so very many counts…
That you always knew the task of cleaning out Tim’s closets had to be done…
That you knew, by some internal reckoning, when you would tend to the task…
That when the time came, you took to the task with your typical care and diligence…
That you, also with your characteristic generosity, you have shared Tim, through his apparel, with others…
That you know Tim was, is, and will be with you.
Love you Paul!!! Thank you!! Of course I thought back to when you and Pontheolla were here! I watched you select the hat you wanted so carefully!! I tried to take great care today too with each and every item!!
I am really proud of you! I know that this was really difficult for you.
Thanks soooo much Heidi!! Tim would be very proud!!! The guy at the charity was happy to get the items!!
I am so glad this task left you with more good than bad. I was so afraid to open this and read it as I figured it might be gut wrenching for you, and that is something that is always hard for me to read from you. I am also so happy that you are lighter and guilt free. This is such a difficult task to do, I am so proud of how you handled it. I just recently got rid of some of my sister’s clothes, clothes I knew I could/would never wear and it’s been almost 33 years. I felt if I got rid of them, I was going to lose some part of her. The clothes weren’t her and now it’s time to do the same with some of Mom’s stuff I have. You give me that courage to do this, and I thank you. I love you tons Ret!! (I wish I had asked you for one of Tim’s orange anything, I had thought of it but I thought it was just too early for you)
Love you back my sister!! I chose to do the task alone just so I could feel everything I needed to feel. I’m glad you got some courage from this post! It is really a tough task for sure!! Whew!!
You KNOW I saved you something orange!! I’ll give it to you on me next visit!! I’m so glad we have each other!!!! Where would I be without you?? Glad I don’t have to find out!!!
My friend, your strength and resilience continue to inspire me. I’m glad you feel a sense of peace having finished this task. I parted with a few belongings of both parents this past weekend, several items were very sentimental but fell into the “you can’t keep everything” category. I hope the people who end up with those things will find enjoyment in them. Sending you my love and gratitude for sharing your journey with us. ~Ann
Thank you so much Ann for being on this journey with me!! The sentimental items are the absolute hardest to part with!! I still have a drawer of the most sentimental stuff but just last night along with a special card, I put a few of Tim’s fav football team’s items in a bag for one of our Godkids who is graduating tomorrow!! I’m sure the items will put a huge smile on her face!! This really is a one step at a time thing!
I so appreciate your love Ann!! Love you back!!