Get rid of all the things!

get rid of

I never imagined myself as one of those people who could eventually want to only own a minimal amount of stuff. When I lost my wife back in 2012 I started to change. After my initial period of grief I eventually rearranged the furniture, and made some small changes to the decor. Soon the last of my children will leave the nest and there will only be me.

I have never lived completely alone. This will be a first for me. It was not part of the plan. I expected to have my wife with me for an indefinite period of time. Not only did losing her change who I am but it also seems to be changing who I want to be. When you have your whole family around you, the home and all that is in it takes on a personality, sort of an extension of who everyone is. You must have enough room for everyone to have his and her own space to the extent you can afford. You’ve got to have beds, closet space, bathrooms enough for everyone. Even with sharing these spaces there is only so little you can get by with when there are two adults and 4 kids. There has to be a place to prepare meals, do laundry and well, live.

Now that it is getting close to being just me everything is starting to feel like clutter. Just when I thought I had arranged everything just the way I would like it, now it all feels like more than I need. My overall plans for the future have changed too.  Because of this,  I have started looking at what is around me and wondering if I really need all of it. Do I really need any of it?

In the past couple of months I have started selling things. A couple of the items were some that I searched long and hard for before buying them, looking for exactly what I wanted, finding the best price and making sure it fit in my budget. Wanting is often more fun than having. Instead of shopping at garage sales I am constantly looking around for what I can get rid of.

It has been interesting reading blogs and watching videos about living minimally. Getting rid of a few bigger items wasn’t that difficult. I sold a tent, bike, picnic table and a few other items with no regret. It’s the little things that are the hardest. You don’t realize how much junk can accumulate. I often will look at something and not know why I have it. It was part of something bigger but I can’t remember what it came off of. I have been afraid to throw it away because I may suddenly remember how important it originally was. This is one of the habits that is difficult to break when trying to get rid of superfluous stuff.

This morning my daughter showed me an item that she planned to send to the local community center along with some clothes. I looked at it and was about to take it from her and stash it. It had no utility at all. I had to really fight that urge not to keep the item. It was a small conquest to win out over the urge. I have to do that with lots of other stuff. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a hoarder. My apartment is not crammed full of old newspapers, magazines and collectibles. In my future I do not see room for anything but the necessities. And so I am taking little steps to get rid of all the things that are unnecessary and have the least amount of emotional significance. There will always be some things that cannot be parted with. I will get these down to a manageable number though and see what my kids might be willing to take possession of.

I am actually excited about doing this. The less I have the better I feel. I have even gone through photos to see what can be discarded. I cannot believe how many pictures there were of inanimate objects that I could not place and people I don’t even know. And so these are gone.

I am looking forward to see how much I can really remove. When my oldest daughter moved to a new apartment I had her look around my place and take whatever decorator items she liked. I thought it would be hard to part with them but it wasn’t. I am looking forward to getting rid of even more. If any of my kids drop by, I’ll do the same thing, have them look around, see it, claim it and load in into the car.

In future posts I’ll share more of my plans for what is next and why I’m getting rid of so much. You might be surprised to see how minimal I’m willing to be. I might be surprised as well.

 

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An open letter to my wife on what would have been our 33rd anniversary.

Jeff and Fawn4

Today would have been 33 years of marriage. It’s hard to know when to stop counting. The words “Happy Anniversary” have lost their meaning. Soon you’ll have been gone for 4 years. Of course the 1st one was the most difficult. They have become easier as time passes. But, easier is not the same as easy. It will never be easy.

Getting accustomed to life without you has been an ongoing project that will never be finished. Reading about others in the same boat and encountering those who have recently lost a spouse reminds me that this is part of life. Not a good part but a part never the less.

After a while I have begun to develop and fall into new patterns. Or perhaps I am just falling back into some of my patterns from when we were not yet married. It is difficult to remember that far back. That was another life. And now, this too is another life.

When a couple marry, we become someone different than the person we were previously. So much changes. And now, being alone again, I am once again becoming someone else. At least that is how it feels. Whoever I become, it is just another part of life. The circumstances that brought us to this point were beyond our control. Now many things are in my control, though not all that I wish. Whatever comes now, be sure that you were, and are a part of who I am. I hope that side of me that you helped make is always a part of me.

Getting used to being alone

After today it will be three years of life as a….and I don’t like to say it….as a widower. The word is sad and foreboding. Am I becoming accustomed to this life without her? I suppose to some extent, I am. What is my other option?

alone

Tonight is the anniversary of the night she left to spent the rest of eternity with God. It is a new life for her, one that is quite beyond my comprehension but I know it has to be wonderful. Now that some time has passed since that awful time I’m learning to look at my situation in a different light and perspective.

Neither of us chose this new journey that we’ve embarked upon. Hers of course, is the one we will all eventually take. I’ve written enough about being sad and missing her. It’s time to stop writing that way. I’m pretty sure I’ve said all there is to say about that.

Life really is different and trying to embrace the positives without feeling guilty and as though I’m betraying her by being happy is a difficult thing. The alternative would be to stay miserable and sad and to wear it on my sleeve for all to see. It’s a way of proclaiming, look at me, I’m still grieving! But I’ve found that I don’t enjoy being around that person and I’m guessing that no one else does either.

If I’m being transparent, which I usually am, I always have the concern that I’ve become content without her. That somehow I’m glad for it. That I prefer it. It’s an uncomfortable though that I expect is not uncommon in my situation.  Do I like being alone? I like it as much as I did before I was ever married. I had no problem being single. I don’t have any problem with it now except that I expected to live out the rest of my life with her at my side.

It is as though I am two people. One is just a middle-aged single man, with grown up kids and grand-kids who has many years (I hope) ahead to enjoy life. The other is the man who lost his wife and doesn’t know how to let that go.  I walk with one foot in each life, switching back and forth between them.

Learning who I am now, at this new time in life is a challenge. I don’t require sympathy or condolence, maybe just understanding.

I’ve made changes. I have ideas about what I’d like my future to be. Nothing concrete, but some hopes. It really is a process. I guess all we can do is take life day by day. Since it really isn’t the end, it might be the beginning.

future