I hit a couple of smaller instances today of the emotions triggered by the removal of “Beau” on Sunday, where the grief was not for the loss of my wife, but for the visible removal of a piece of the life I am leaving behind.
Similar thing today. I started by recycling a stack literally 6 inches thick, of paper transaction records and monthly statements from the early years of our managed accounts, and some other historical records dating back into the ’80s. When that wad dropped into the blue recycle bin it was like there was a mechanical connection to my sinuses. I just choked up. At old papers of no value, papers that we stopped accumulating over 15 years ago and hadn’t looked at between then and now?
Here’s another trivial trigger: the corkboard in the kitchen where we thumb-tacked things to remember. I started pulling irrelevant stuff off it. Out-of-date notes about museum exhibits to see, phone numbers of vendors I’ll never use again. Stuff. And I got to the printed list of the thirty-odd dishes that we liked to cook. It was a reminder list, so when we were planning the week’s menu on Sunday, we could look the list over and say, oh, right, I’ll do that pasta, you can do this stir-fry. Won’t be doing any of those dishes again. I know this, in fact I’ve been living very contentedly and healthily off meal replacement shakes supplemented by fruit and the occasional can of tuna, for two weeks. But to pull down this visible reminder of the old life was just — hard.
More and more I am coming to grasp that as a widower perhaps the least of my bereavements is the loss of my wife. With her went an entire, carefully-crafted lifestyle. It doesn’t go all at once; it peels away in chunks, or shards as I found myself saying on Sunday. And each shard that drops away is a fresh bereavement.
A more direct trigger came a bit later. While organizing the now stripped-down file drawer in the desk, I saw yet another folder labeled “Stocks”. What? How many stock broker folders were there, for pete’s sake? It turned out, this one was possibly the oldest. It contained Marian’s records of her IBM Stock Purchase Plan purchases. Heart of it was a small spiral-bound leather notebook in which were her hand-written records of employee stock purchases starting in 1962, and continuing to 1980. There were other papers as well, a printed spreadsheet showing the purchases and changes in value over time as the stock split and so on.
Historically and financially these are of no value. All those shares were accounted for and sold in ’95, the capital gains taxes paid, and the money pooled in our managed account. I recycled the papers but I could not bring myself to trash the notebook. It was so typical of her that she would, one, keep a record in a journal in her neat draftsman’s printing over twenty years of employment; and two, retain that in her desk, ready for reference, for another thirty years. I put the journal into the “Marian” folder. I’ll probably never look at it again, but it is just beyond me to discard it, at least yet.
Anyway the cleaning lady came and went, the house is all spiffy. I stained the two table tops, got the car washed, and faxed my witness report to the insurance company for the lady whose Prius I saw bashed the other day. Takin’ care of bidness. Gonna take a nap now; and then going out with Scott for the evening. Report on that tomorrow.