The 3rd anniversary of Michaels seizure just passed. I wasn’t home for it. I went to MA to spend the weekend with my family.

I have written on here about going through things since he got sick. We had not yet unpacked so much of the basement/garage when he got sick. I was writing the book for the year prior and we were going to go through things that winter. It never happened.

When Michael was sick I didn’t want to go through anything. He was the one who packed the house, he was the one who packed the boxes and most of the stuff in the garage and basement was his. I left fishing poles leaning on the walls of the garage that he was putting new lines on. I left his car in its stall. I left things he had bought in bags in the garage. I left his boat in the yard. For months and months my basement, garage and yard was just a snapshot of how everything looked the last time Michael was there. I even left my dry cleaning, that he had picked up that day, in his car.

Some people call it enshrinement but I know, as a grief counselor, that it was something like that but not really. He was still alive. He was still here. How could I start to dismantle everything as if he weren’t or as if he wasnt coming back? I couldnt.

After he died I tried to slowly go through things. I sold his car and his boat. I went through some boxes. Michael packed everything so oddly (he packed by size not by anything going with anything else…he would walk around the house looking for something that fit in this place…every box was packed tight but with the oddest combinations in the world…). He never threw out anything. And I mean anything. So there are things from last year with some ledger of his familys from 1949. (no exaggeration). So every box is a surprise. And some of the things he wrapped up or put in makes me smile…then makes me cry.

He was very unique person, my Michael. And these little things just made me laugh when he was here. I would open boxes and just start laughing, throw up my hands and think, “What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” And try the next box. Then when he would come home, I would say, “What is THIS?” and he would smile and shrug. He was who he was. No apologies. No changing. And I faked a lot of exasperation about it. But I loved it. And I loved him.
His unique way of packing was just one of the many unique things about him that made me smile.

I appreciated that he packed up the houses and moved us all the way across the country and back. And he drove from Boston to San Francisco about 6 times when we did our first coast to coast move. Never complaining…

He moved the house, all the furniture, packed it up, moved the animals. He flew cats on planes and drove dogs in vans. He argued with California border patrol about my house plants. He was the guy. He did what he had to do and he did it over and over again. He drove from Texas to New York in the pouring rain with the dog and the cats and towing his boat. He blew a few tires on the boat trailer in the middle of the night. He was exhausted. So tired he walked into the wall when he came in. It was the first time I literally saw someone bounce off the wall.s

All of this comes back as I prepare to go through more boxes again. I have been staying in this house too long. I can’t afford it…Gina is away at college and I have to get on with my life. I have to do it.

Yes, it’s taken me 2 years to go through some of it. I sold his machinist tools. The boys took some of his fishing gear. One night we found cans and cans and cans of pennies and cashed them in and went out to dinner at a steakhouse. Of course we toasted him that night. We had a meal he would have approved of.

Inside one of the cans was a photo of Gina as a newborn. Again, Michael’s odd placements. She enjoyed seeing it and I have it in my dresser now.

But I have so much more to go through. So much. I have filing cabinets that I don’t even know what is in them.

But my biggest issue is that there are still things in this house that were last touched by Michael. When I open boxes I can run my hand along the contents knowing he was the last one to touch them. And it comforts me and saddens me. But I am dreading when there is no more boxes like that to open up.

So I know that in the next few days I really have to start looking through the boxes. I’m home with a fracture in my back and I have to go slow, but then again, that’s the only way I can go even without a bad back. I have to go slow and tread slowly. I want to memorize the traces of him.

While I still have them.