Sometimes I’m overpowered by the need to organize. I think part of it stems from a need for control that I didn’t have over Ken’s health or of the apartment during his illness. It was tantamount that things be accessible to him–aesthetics and organization be damned. Of course, that was okay. I wanted him to be as comfortable as possible. But once they removed his hospital bed on June 2, 2011, I’ve been moving things around and trying to organize and streamline. This need for controlled change hits me in jolts and must be obeyed.
I tackled some long-avoided boxes of cards and letters. I’m a hoarder of such mementos when they share a personal message or commemorate a special occasion. The 80s and 90s box brought unabashed giddiness, laughter and smiles. But there were other boxes I was dreading to go through, and others I wasn’t even quite sure about the contents. After the fun box was sorted, labeled and stored, I moved to the fork on the road. To “go there” or “not to go there” is sometimes the question. And as time has passed, it becomes somewhat of a choice. Or maybe I’m just fooling myself, trying to assert control of something that is forever uncontrollable.
I didn’t necessarily keep the cards and notes in order, but as I fumbled through them, they fell into definite chronological groups. Beginning with Ken’s rediagnosis and hemipelvectomy in January of 2010, I kept pretty much every card received. I hung them up or kept them out so he could see how many people were supporting for him. Once he’d recovered I couldn’t bring myself to throw any of them away. When the cancer returned again later that year, he received a deluge of love and support via USPS. And again when he came home for hospice in April of 2011. Then came the condolence cards for me. Followed closely by the funny ones. To try to make me smile. All the the love, hugs, and prayers sent was lush and plentiful. I can’t say they were all for naught. It’s what we do. It’s all there is to do.
Reading through all the cards in that box brought me back to a time when that hospital bed rested humbly at the front of the living room in which Ken was nestled each night. I could hear his voice. His laughter. Our in-jokes. I found numerous cards he’d written me over the years, tears stinging my eyes then running eagerly down my face. I could feel his love, and I could see our live together–clearly. I felt chained to it…in a way. For better or for worse. And wondered–even now–if it will ever be possible to touch or see or feel something from my life with Ken and not feel this tiresome ache.
2000s sorted, labeled and lovingly stored. Until the next fork in the road.
Some days are inherently tough. And those days deserve to end with something like this.