Monday, September 1, 2014

Personal Effects

Today, I cleaned out Rick's huge desk. I'm getting rid of it next week and lining the back of our my living room with bookshelves instead. Stacks of income tax records went upstairs to my office. Other files went there too. Photos of me he had on and in his desk have retired to a box full of other "stuff" - his reading glasses, his Dallas Cowboys memorabilia, his desktop computer. I'll figure out what to do with it later. I can't cope with the enormity of "stuff" right now.

This cleaning out of his desk was another step closer to cleaning out his closet. I am still not ready to do that. His belts and ties and shoes and clothes will have to wait for another day some month in the future. His sock and underwear drawers remain untouched.

But his desk is now empty. Cleared off. Cleared out. It's going. And soon it will be replaced with bookshelves. And books.

The entire downstairs of my home is now devoid of Rick. His urn and some photos remain, but anything that belonged to him is gone. Everything he owned is holed up in one place - his closet and his chest of drawers - waiting for me.

Today, with the desk, everything I touched, I determined whether to toss it or keep it. I found sweet things, like cards I had given him, as well as manly things like screws and screw drivers. The fruit bowl in my kitchen is currently home to tools rather than fruit.

So I tossed and I kept, and when the desk was empty I cried. Not a bad cry. Not a good cry. Just a cry that stated, "This is weird."

And then, when all traces of Rick were gone from the downstairs of my home, I chose what seems to be the most random assortment of personal effects and set them in a dish on my kitchen counter.

For the last 3 months, Rick's watch and wedding ring have rested on his desk. I held them in my hand today and couldn't put them away. I found his American flag tie clip in his top desk drawer and couldn't throw it in a box of "stuff," so I put it with the watch and ring. He had a comb in his desk drawer too... I put it in the box of "stuff"...then I took it out. He had his Lehigh University mug on the highest shelf of his desk. When I took it down to put it away, I realized that I'd never really noticed it even though it had been there for years in plain sight. To give it justice, I put it with the other personal effects so I could pay attention to it for a little while longer.

The last item I added to the small collection on my kitchen counter was a small container of Play-Doh. A long time ago, Rick told me that one of his favorite smells in the whole world was the smell of Play-Doh. So one day when I was out, I bought him a small container of it. He opened it excitedly, inhaled the smell, and smiled. He didn't care about touching it. He didn't take it out of the little plastic jar. But every once in a while, he'd crack the lid, smell it, and smile.

I couldn't throw it away.

I put everything in the Lehigh mug, but that didn't feel right either. I wanted to see it all.

Rick's personal effects will stay in the large dish on the countertop in our my kitchen until I'm ready to put them away. I don't want him erased from my sight just yet. I like to hold the items from time to time. I like to remember that he was here.


  1. I think it's so important to keep mementos around. It keeps his spirit alive. I think it will also prepare you for the arduous task of closet cleaning, when you're ready.

  2. Hi Arielle :)
    My name is Mia :) nice to meet you over your blog.
    I was search on internet this morning and i saw your blog...

    I'm Taiwanese living in Taiwan, Asia.( It's a very small country next to China, most American did't ever heard about it.) I'm using Chinese as my main language and my husband is american. I guess that's why i stop on your blog at first.
    I don't know what to say about what happened on you...but just want to leave a message here, just like my husband says "Take one day at a time."
    You are not alone...just wan to let you know that I saw your pain... you are not alone.


Help me feel less alone.