Goodbye in Pieces
I went through the infamous reproducing shoe basket yesterday. Once the mound of shoes in the basket by the front door reaches about four feet high, my custom is to text Chance, Chandler, and Charli and tell them if their shoes remain unclaimed and put away in their rooms, they get donated to Salvation Army the next week. I only texted two kids yesterday.
I kept two pair of Chandler's shoes -- the "Jesus" shoes and the hiking boots he wore in India.
Today I carried bags of Chandler's clothes downstairs and out to the porch for a Salvation Army pickup. I kept telling myself, "Chandler is not in his clothes. They won't bring him back to me." Still, I kept his Board & Brew t-shirts, his favorite Superman fleece sleep pants, some jackets, and other items that were special to me. I found a t-shirt that said, "I'd rather burn out than fade away."
It just didn't feel right. How can it be so simple and yet so very difficult to bag up clothes, bring them downstairs, and have them taken away as if they weren't a part of my son's life? Believe me, I had considered the alternative. What if I just kept everything so I could go through it from time to time, feel near to Chandler, and avoid the reality that he doesn't need any of those things any more? For me, for our family, it was OK to say goodbye a little more by letting go of Chandler's clothes. Even typing it now just seems so wrong.
So a few minutes before I was to leave for work this afternoon, I got a call from Salvation Army. The truck was full and they had to reschedule for next week. Under normal circumstances, I would be ticked, get over it, and put the stuff away. Not today. I called Chip, distraught. I said, "I can't do this again. It was hard enough putting everything out on the porch. I can't bear to take it back up to his room."
I put out the word on FB to see what the closest donation drop-off centers are to RSM. Within minutes, kind people were offering to pick up his stuff, and a friend texted to say she and her husband were on the way with their truck. I cannot tell you how relieved I was.
When I got home from work, I walked to the front door and was not forced to pass by the bags of memories--t-shirts he wore to skate in and bike in, golf shirts he wore to play a sport he loved, dress pants he wore to weddings and special occasions, jeans I saw him wear when going out with friends, shoes he danced, hiked, biked, and skated in. So many memories. But the clothes are not Chandler. They can't bring him back.
Today....another piece of goodbye.