You’d think after almost two years I’d be used to the silence in this big house on Sunday mornings. I’m surprised at how thick it still is. Sundays were fun days for me and she. Inevitably, she’d spring out of bed with a little dance, a smile and a plan: work in the garden, go for a walk with the pups, brunch, paint, something. She was always moving, it seemed, moving and smiling. Now Sundays, once my favorite day of the week, are my most lonely.
Today will be a continuation of a process that started a long time ago. But today is different; I’m bringing in help. Mom Mary and Sister Lori are coming over and we, together, are going to sort through some more of Maggie’s stuff. There’s still so much to go through. I’m not sure how much we will get done but any progress is movement forward and movement is good. Still, I both fear and look forward to the work.
I suppose until Mary and Lori get here I could go work in the garden. It could certainly use some love. It’s been several years since we tended it together and working alone seems so…. Pointless. But watching the plants and flower grow do make me smile still, just not as sweetly. I always felt as we worked the dirt together we were building a foundation for happy times to come as a couple. Now, I’m not sure why it’s worth the effort. Sure, it looks nice. I enjoy the flowers. But it just doesn’t seem as meaningful.
Over the last number of years I’ve let the yard and garden really go. It used to be a breathtaking work of nature (and our hands.) We loved working in it, on it and watching it grow. It was a labor of together love. But as she got sicker, priorities had to be rearranged and the gardening fell out, that is, unless she wanted to go play in it. Then, later, I pretty much lost interest. Well, that’s not quite true. I still love the garden. I just didn’t care about anything anymore. It’s funny how this garden has reflected the health, both mental and physical, of the people in this house.
Even though moments have passed since you started reading this post, hours have passed since I started typing it. And in the hours, I did go out and work in the yard. I didn’t do much; I evicted some quite large weeds that had taken up residence and had been bothering me for quite some time. It was cathartic. I was surprised, actually, at how hard it was to pull some of them from the hard dirt. They really, REALLY didn’t want to go.
When Mary and Lori got here we started our work for the day: underneath Maggie’s bathroom sink. It’s not particularly complicated work but nonetheless it’s kept me perplexed now for, well, nearly two years. Various bottles of hair stuff and face stuff and nail stuff that took up residence when we moved in or soon after had all but spoiled. Many garbage pails of stuff had to be thrown out. It surprised me at how hard it was to pull some of them from underneath the sink. (I think it surprised Mary and Lori, too.) But it was time for all that stuff to go… Some to Mary…. Some to Lori… Some to unknown recipients… Some to the garbage.
After we finished the monumental task of clearing out one (exactly one) counter, we were emotionally drained. We packed up the dogs and headed to Red Barn Nursery to peruse the fresh spring plants. It was quite a contrast to just moments before when we were separating out hair gel from hand lotion while unearthing under-the-sink emotional land mines. Here, while we looked at caladiums and oxalis, my mind raced through years of memories of Maggie and me (and Niko) spending hours (and many, many dollars) at Red Barn, picking plants for our garden. Now, I was there with Maggie’s mom and sister (and Niko and Kali) while they picked out plants for their gardens after spending a couple of hours throwing away my wonderful wife’s, their wonderful sister’s and daughter’s things.
I wish I could avoid the metaphor here. I was certainly relieved when I finally pulled out those pesky few weeds that had been bothering me for so long. I can’t really say I can feel relief about clearing out one more stack of stuff of Maggie’s. Right now, when I look at the places her stuff used to be, I see great big holes, just like where the weeds used to be in my yard; there are big divots in the ground that are all dirt and no grass. These empty holes dot the yard, just like the empty spots on Maggie’s side of the bathroom sure do stick out.
But I know grass will grow back in the yard and fill in those holes. The grass around it may be a little shocked from the winter, but it’s good strong grass planted in good strong dirt. It’ll take time but eventually, I won’t even be able to tell where those weeds used to be. Heck, I might not even remember that they were there. Ya know, before we started clearing out the cabinet, I took pictures. Maybe I should have taken pictures of those weeds, too.