I know I haven’t posted in a while….I haven’t had many tear-free days but I did step up in my support group and volunteer for some things. I like to sit back for a while and observe and then if I’m going to stick around (if it’s healthy), I will step up…which I did.

It was a nice weekend and Nick came down and helped with some stuff around the house. We were looking for some things in the basement yesterday and ran across these coffee cans that were full of pennies. I thought my goodness, how many times did Michael move these pennies (these were OLD coffee cans)?

We’ve lived in 4 different houses in 4 different parts of the country and I will bet anything these pennies saw every single one. As I’ve said, I have never gone through his stuff so I had no idea what was down there. We took the pennies to CoinStar and there was $80.00 in pennies. EIGHTY DOLLARS. IN PENNIES.. That’s a lot of pennies.

We went out to dinner with the money…I’m sure Michael would have not approved of us cashing in his pennies, but he would have approved of dinner (steaks).

I also posted on a machinist site to get a sense of what to do with his tools and some of the guys were saying that they were re-thinking their garages and basements because if they passed, their poor wives would be left with this giant mess. But they were really nice and gave me some good pointers as to how to tell what to keep, what to sell and what to throw out.

Some days it seems like I need to go through it and become familiar with it so I know what to do with it. Other days I can’t bear to touch any of it. Sometimes I go downstairs and see that we’re de-constructing the space that was his and I get so sad and can’t bear to do it.

I’ve written about this before but it still hits me hard.

Because Michael’s illness was so sudden, everything was left as if someone was coming back to it. He left so many projects that he was working on…I can see where he was organizing some things and unpacking others.

The “frozen in time” aspect hits me hard whenever I realize it or come across something that he was obviously working on or with. He had taken some of his fishing poles and put them on one side of the garage and I know that was to put on new lines or reels or whatever the hell he was doing with them. He was very methodical about keeping the poles (of which he has about 30) rotating and putting new lines and lures and whatever the hell on them. So there was always a subset off to the side that he was working on. So the ones that are not with the others I know were getting re-lined or whatever you would call it.

I still haven’t moved those fishing poles back with the others and I see them almost every time I go down there. But I’ve decided it’s time to move some stuff out. I can’t and won’t tackle it all at once, but today Nick took home one of his ratchet sets and one of his collectible knives. Which I did not know existed until recently (the collection of knives, not the ratchet set).

I think he knew I would disapprove of these things but they weren’t particularly well-hidden. They were in his tool box and so I guess he knew I’d never go in there (we were both very good about boundaries). So because of the little boys I locked them away.

I have to keep the dismantling of Michael’s life in balance with the re-construction of mine. And sometimes it’s hard. Some days I know it needs to be done and other days it feels as if I’m betraying him. But I have to balance what I can’t do yet with what I need to do some of. Trying to keep the healthy perspective is hard sometimes.

I also know that if it were Michael he would pack up my things and just move them from house to house for the rest of his life. Because he never threw anything out. And I had $80.00 worth of pennies to prove that.

And I found his pack-rat-ness so amusing when he was alive and sometimes when I find something odd among his things, I still do. But other times I ache for the person who brought all this amusement and splashes of idiosyncratic Michael-ness everywhere to my life. And most of his stuff I can’t use or can’t do a single thing with so I have to let it go…at some point.

I’m trying to balance the erasing with the keeping.

I made some kind of progress with the support group and the pennies. Maybe next week I’ll even speak at the support group. I don’t know yet. I try to speak and the words just catch in my throat.

It’s a slow, sad climb to wellness.