Where do you begin?
Where does it all end?
What does it all mean?
We stood there the day after
Looking at each other
Them looking at me to lead them
Asking what to do
Where to start
How do I know the answer?
What thought process do I go through to figure it all out
Minds covered in haze
Hearts filled with grief
Thoughts and decisions covered in sorrow
Heart aching with loss
We all dug in with both hands
Sorting and sorting and boxing and dumping and keeping and tossing and loading and donating and discussing.
Rule number one — tell me what item is important to you and put your name on it
Rule number two — make a box to fill
Pictures? — we will pile all the boxes of pictures to distribute later. We will have a ceremony after the burial where we go through them together. This morphs as hours go by
Documents? Shred? Burn? There are so many. Then so many more. Medical papers. Receipts. Piles and piles.
Another plan is made. We will have a bonfire. Burn all the documents and as we sit around the fire we will sort the photos. Each person will have a beautiful box to fill with theirs. This will allow us to reminisce and remember.
Greeting cards? There are hundreds. Letters. Notes. Notebooks. At least a hundred little spiral notebooks and notepads. Address labels? We are talking a thousand. Piles and piles. And piles.
The notepads are full of lists – bills, groceries, peoples names and addresses and phone numbers. Repetitive. Historical. Facts. Figures. Ideas.
Paper clips? Tools? Batteries. So many batteries. Tassels? That one got us laughing. What the heck?
Phone calls need to be made. There’s nothing like calling government agencies and their 1-800 numbers. Exasperating. Get through. Get on hold. Get disconnected. Redial. Re-enter. Remain sane. Reach one of the kindest people in the world who efficiently cancels the 38 year long pension in about 38 seconds. The VA is highly efficient and friendly as they end that monthly stipend with a “God bless you”. Another thing checked off the list. Meds by mail. Check. Cable. Check. Lawyer. Check. Bank. Check. Phone. Check. Check. Check. The list grows shorter then grows longer. So much to do. So much to think about.
Estate sale. Realtor. Lawyers. Meetings and appointments.
As the list changes everyone else is using the physical energy to load. And box and bag and load some more. Calls are made to donate medical equipment. Four walkers. A wheelchair. Crutches. Shower chair. Toilet raiser- bought just hours before she died. Piles of glucose monitors, blood pressure cuffs and all manner of joint stabilizers and ortho equipment.
Beds and chairs and dishes. Pots and pans and bowls and kitchen gadgets galore. Furniture and furnishings. Toothpaste and shampoo and bars of soap.
Donations to the humane society thrift store. Boxes of clothes. Loads to the dump. A garage filled with estate sale items. Boxes filled with canned and dried food donated to the food bank. Mementos kept and discovered and shared.
Bursts of tears. Bursts of laughter. People stopping by. Nieces. Cousins. Neighbors.
The mind can not comprehend the amount of physical labor, the depth of emotional storm, the ache that’s being covered by action. The knowledge that when the action stops the ache will increase and overwhelm.
Most of my Saturdays were spent with her, sometimes hours on end. Sometimes just a short visit. My calendar is filled with upcoming doctors appointments that will now be cancelled. Our trip to Israel stays on the books but she won’t hear from us about our great adventure. She was going to follow our itinerary daily to understand where we were that day. Nazareth. Galilee. Floating in the Dead Sea. Crying at the tomb of Jesus.
We all have to go through the loss of parents at some point. It’s enormous. As our often dysfunctional family goes through all these worldly goods that sustained her life and lifestyle I pray God’s grace as we patiently and tenderly grieve together, forgive one another, and move forward together.
“She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
Proverbs 31:15-17, 20, 22, 25-26, 28-31 NIV