We’ve been in the midst of moving lately. It’s always an interesting time as you end up losing important household items and finding other random things. One of the unnecessary items I found was this: a muddy, never-been-washed piece of cloth used as a sweatband during a race.
In Chris’ last couple earthly years, he’d gotten into running 5K’s. Many of them were local but there were a few that sounded so fun he was willing to drive a couple hours away for them. One of them was a Zombie 5K. It was part role play and part exercise. He had wonderful time there with a group of friends. They wore torn up clothing and splashed themselves in fake blood. I can’t look at those photos anymore; it’s too traumatic.
One of the other interesting races Chris competed in was a Spartan race. It wasn’t a simple run, either. It was an obstacle course and guaranteed to leave you covered in mud. I remember how excited he was to tell me about it. I also remember how bad his clothes stank when he brought them home! Somehow the muddy sweatband didn’t make it into the wash. Some time after Chris’ death I happened to find this small, dirty piece of black cloth. I didn’t need it. Yet there was a part of me that couldn’t bear to get rid of it, nor to wash it. It had something of him still on it, something that I couldn’t replace… even if that something was his dried sweat.
It sat on a bookshelf for years, discarded and mostly forgotten. Every once in a while I would stumble upon it and know I should throw it out. Instead, I would hold it in my hands and turn it around, as if it would become a portal to the man I lost. Clearly, nothing magical ever happened because of this nasty sweatband.
While moving I happened upon this again and I knew what it was time to do. I took a photo of it, knowing it wasn’t worth saving. With a deep breath I tossed it into the trash… and it didn’t hurt as much as I had anticipated.
Later the same week I happened upon something else I needed to finally release my grip from. It was nothing special, really. Chris and I had a notepad that hung on the fridge with the words “Honey… do list” written across the top. He’d written my name at the top as if I was Aimee and he was “Honey”. He’d written us a list on there in 2014 and I’d never had the heart to toss it out. For over seven years now, I’d kept this notepad on or near the fridge. It had his handwriting as well as his creative spelling on it. It had a note to “wash bitty” which meant give our daughter a bath. He referred to her sweetly as “the bitty baby” and often shortened it to simply “Bitty”.
Channeling the same energy as before, I took a breath. I took a photo. I ripped the top note off the pad and placed it in the trash can. It stung a bit, but it wasn’t terrible.
We don’t let go of people we love. We may let go of their possessions but the memories and love remain with us. The things they used and the things they touched are simply that—things. They cannot replace the person nor can they really give us long-term relief from the pain of separation. At times I feel like the possessions of the dead can become a prison around us… and it’s important to find freedom.
We must seek release from the shackles of stagnancy and sometimes that looks like filling a trash bag. Chris spent his years with me knowing he was loved.