There are times when I write and I can bang a blog off in minutes but those times are not the norm. Usually it can take me a day or two and in this case I have been working on this story for a couple of weeks. I find when I am trying to write about something painful I need to take a break every few lines and walk around the house to collect my thoughts or maybe cause it is tough and my instinct to run and hide is even stronger. This time though when I do my walk through the house and tidy as I go or touch stuff it just makes the pain worse. At times I wonder why we as North Americans are so consumed with accumulating more and more stuff. I think my family has just way too much stuff. There is stuff everywhere and as much as I try to declutter, whenever I turn around it feels like we have accumulated more and more.
After Len’s funeral my brother Chris and sister Kerry stayed with us for a few more days to help out. We all knew they really wanted to get back on the planes that brought them here and go back to their lives but they sucked it up and stayed. I am forever thankful they didn’t just leave and were here to help with the cleaning out of Lens home, dismantling his life.
We arrived early in the day, at Len’s home and spent some time with pleasantries with our Parents. It wasn’t till our parents left to go out for lunch (I think to really just get away from what we needed to do) that we were able to get down to the task at hand. It is a very strange feeling going through another person’s life and making split decisions on what has value or what to toss. I have heard stories of parents or spouses who after years, still have there loved ones clothes in closets. I guess it is different when you are still living in the same home, you don’t have this pressing need to put closure to the situation because of finances. We spent hours going through each room making piles, what to keep, what to donate and what to toss. I remember doing Len’s laundry and then thinking why? Its not like any of us are going to sleep in his bed or use his sheets. But for some reason it was important to me that I washed everything before I threw it out, crazy I know.
By the end of the day we had taken a truckload to the dump, two truck loads to a charity resale store and we had a truckload that was to go to family members. Though we tried to clean out as much as possible and we didn’t really want anything, all of Lens furniture stayed. My father wanted all of it and kept insisting most of it was his anyway. We questioned how that could be, as I had receipts from stores of stuff Len had just bought before he went on vacation. We didn’t want to argue with him if it was so important that he have just about everything then fine we had our memories and knew we could talk about Len with each other when ever we felt like it. Everyone handles their grief differently so I guess for some they need to surround themselves with stuff. I have never lost a child so it is best for me not to judge. But let me just say it was very difficult for me to keep my mouth shut and my temper under control that day.
By the end of the day when we left we had loaded up the truck with bits and pieces of stuff including groceries. It appeared that Len had just gone grocery shopping before he left for vacation as he had a freezer full of meat and cupboards full of dry goods. We filled about 4 large bags, I figured my family would use it. On our drive home the three of us made a vow that when we got home we were going to go through all our stuff and have a major clean out. We didn’t want anyone to have to sort through all of our personal stuff once we were gone.
I remember lying in bed that night going over the day’s events. And thinking just how sad I was and how sad that 38 years of life can be cleaned out in a days work. We spend our whole lives accumulating stuff. We save our money for things, we are a society of shoppers. We can’t even have one day a week without shopping, we need to buy, buy, buy. Only to have after we die, others pass judgment on its value and toss it in one of three piles.