Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bird by Bird

I stole the subject from Anne Lamott, who is one of my favorite writers. This book is a wonderful "how to write" book and basically she is saying, step by step. Well, this is how I'm beginning to tackle all the things that I want to accomplish around the house ... one project at a time. I remind myself I don't even have to actually complete the project, just get it started, make a dent in it and then maybe I can get back to it again at some point.

The other day it was the work bench down cellar. There are a lot of tools and other stuff that I don't even know what half of it is because this was Jim's area, his work space and he knew what everything was and, miraculously, where everything was. Over the last 2 years, as people came to help with projects, they would go down into that space to find the tools needed. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it's organization so it was hard for folks to put things back where they had found it. Thus, it had bloomed into a complete, chaotic, mess.

Did you note the "had" ... that's right, I got down there the other morning and organized, vacuumed (of course!), grouped things according to color and shape (I'm kidding) and basically pulled that work bench back into a space that invites rather then intimidates. And I even have a sense of what is there now. Mission accomplished and it feels purty durn good.

It also felt good to be seeing the things that Jim had collected and had worked with. His cherished Japanese hand saw as well as the wood carving tools. These things brought a smile to my face and not tears, which surprised me. But again, it's easier to work beyond our immediate living space for some reason. But, I have been able to give away quite a few of Jim's clothes and shoes. I'm fortunate there are so many men in my family who happen to be the same fit as Jim when it comes to certain articles of clothing. I know Jim would delight in seeing the leather jacket on Will, the fine Italian leather shoes on Jerry as well as so many of his great shirts, the hiking shoes on Jay and his sisters wearing his T-shirts to bed. I feel fine seeing these things go to loved ones and I don't even mind seeing them again when they are wearing them. It makes me smile. Eventually I will probably get down to stuff that I won't mind carting off to Goodwill ... but not quite yet.

It is, after all, just stuff. But pawing through the closet and seeing his saxophone had me drop into the fetal position one day. So some stuff still carries a lot of weight I guess. Pictures still are painful for me, though this too is getting a wee bit better. Reading his journals is hard; he was a writer and a poet and it's hard to witness that beautiful mind and soul in his scrawling on the page. I can almost ... almost ... hear his voice and this hurts like hell.

Oh, this process. Part of me just wants to be done with it as it is so incredibly painful at times and so flat lined in my feelings at other times. I get sharing stories, and of course all of them are "Jim and I", and the realization of all the history I have with this man, all the moments, all the best times and many bad times too. And now he's gone .... and I have all this stuff.

Bird by Bird, Mary ....

Loving you all back,


  1. **Sniffffe* -- crying as usual, but through the laughter: "grouped things according to color and shape." HEE HEEHEEHEE!

  2. I wish to hold you in this process of grief as you once held me. I am hopeful that you know you are in my thoughts, my prayers. Thank you for sharing so much of YOU with all of us. I carry you in my heart.

  3. Thinking of you tonight, Mary. You are often in our hearts and minds. You are brave and wonderful and I wish you continued strength. There is a sweet spot in loss, I have learned from my own. That something that hurts so much now, once gave us such a rare opportunity to see grace and feel great and unbounded love. Not always a solace, but true none the less. Stella