Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | February 4, 2016

smoke ring day

Reminiscent of Neil Young’s
“I went insane / like a smoke ring day / when the wind blows.”
For real. This is me taking a little break from my day. As if typing out my thoughts helps somehow. Except instead of a smoke ring day, it’s more like a fuck!me! day. Ever have those?
“Now I won’t be back til later on, if I do come back at all…”
I have been going through papers, old files, boxes and reams of stuff which “no longer serves”. J’s been gone for over six years now, and I have removed maybe half the volume of stuff that was in this house when he was here. I’ve filled a 40 yard dumpster, taken hundreds of truckloads to the dump, donated dozens more, supported myself for a year on the sale of precious ephemera & etc., and there is still plenty more where that came from. The mind boggles. As much as I would like to blame this on my husband, it seems inappropriate at this juncture. Not here to defend himself…
I am burning handfuls of papers in the wood stove; saying incantations over them.
“Be gone.” “You can’t hurt me any more.” “WHY are you even still here?”
I called my friend Sarah for emergency girlfriend-tech-support. She said, “You think you can do this work for eight hours a day, but that is unrealistic. You totally can’t.”
when I told her how I was powering through a mighty load of crap and came upon my typed-out wedding vows, with our handwritten notes to each other. Suddenly I’m back in spring of 1990, full of hope for the future. Screeching halt, whiplash back to today, aaaaand
I’m done for the day. Gotta go.
That was yesterday. Lots of stuff is easily discarded. Some stuff is clearly to be kept. It’s the in-between stuff that makes this process so exhausting. Some stuff, you just wonder: why are you still here? will I ever need you? which will I regret more: keeping you or throwing you out? I have had the bonus of finding some very sweet photographs and memorabilia I thought were long gone, so there’s that. Silver lining.
Today, I have a messy and tiresome cold, but, fueled by Sarah’s phone call and a large greasy delicious avocado BLT, I spent the morning emptying a simmering file cabinet. It lives in a corner of the attic, glowering at me. I could really use the space for something more current and relevant. I was going along fine, a very productive day. It feels great to get rid of stuff, to open up some breathing room. I have piles to burn, piles to recycle, a large trash bag at the ready.
Til I came upon this. The Tear Stained Letter. I have made mention of this in earlier writings, but I did not remember that there actually was just one such letter. This is it. Jeff wryly named it after a beloved Richard Thompson song. It is so like him to make light of the dire situation in which we found ourselves that year (and for years afterwards, some of which he was here for, but mostly not). I wrote this letter to the financial aid officers at the colleges to which my daughter applied as her father lay dying.
To the casual observer who has not had to do this recently: If you have anything encouraging to say, I advise you to think first about how it will sound once it escapes your mouth and flies to my ears, because by then it will be too late.
I think I’ll go lie down for a while. Thanks for listening.
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