Matt, It’s been 82 months since your death and I foolishly thought I was ready to donate your winter clothing to the homeless addicts living in Kensington. I have become part of a group of mom’s who take trips to the streets providing food and clothing to those who continue to be forgotten by society. I must say it’s a part of how I survive your death, by giving back to those suffering from the disease that took your life.
I usually avoid your closet, but that day I felt it was something I was ready to do. Opening the door was walking back in time. Sweaters were on hangers as if you were expected to walk through the door, grab one and ask, Hey Mom do I look ok.
I stood in the doorway waiting for my breath to settle. It was shocking how my body responded to seeing your clothing. Slowly I started to take one down. Memories of you wearing this sweater flooded my brain. I held it close, burying my face into the softness hoping to breathe in your scent. I could hear you voice telling me it’s ok Mom, it’s ok.
As I continued to place those sweaters in a box, I was fighting myself as if this was what I really wanted to do. These sweaters were pieces of what I have left of you. My mind was battling should they stay or should they go. I held each one close and saw you wearing them looking so handsome with your beautiful smile letting me know you approved. I started talking to you asking if this was what you wanted.
I remember how you were always so giving. Memories of you giving your shirt to a homeless man prompted me to keep going. I held each sweater, running my hand over the material before placing them into the box. I managed to donate several sweaters, a jacket and a pair of pants.
Driving to the donation event, my tears were flowing wondering if I was strong enough to hand over the box to those who would take your sweaters to the streets handing them out to people who have nothing. Pulling into the parking lot I was greeting by smiling faces. Women thanking me for helping take care of other mothers children.
As I handed over the boxes I had a feeling of profound sadness mixed with joy. Knowing I was giving away pieces of what I had left of you re -broke my heart. Knowing that your sweaters would provide comfort to someone with nothing gave me a bit of joy.
Once again I’ve learned that grief knows no time line. It lives in pieces of clothing that will never be worn by you again. It lives in memories that surface unexpectedly. It lives knowing that even doing the right thing can be the most painful thing in the world.