A friend who has been living and working in Yogyakarta,Indonesia, for four years is sorting, discarding, gifting, and packing up her household for the return trip to the USA. I read her short notes on Facebook and feel a tremendous kinship with her journey. (Umm, journeys again. Theme here?)
Was it yesterday or the day before, that I decided how to organize the boxes of edited David files? During therapy yesterday, I was able to get started after a run to Staples for supplies. Plastic file boxes, labels, and hanging files came home and got spread around the dining room floor. It was chaos for awhile, but I started on a box of David’s manuscripts which will be saved together in two boxes -- 25 of them are now alphabetized, labeled, and sitting in neat, new hanging folders. I imagine David laughing at me but enjoying that I would want to take such care. I imagine a great-grand daughter reading in some dusty attic and wondering about her ancient relative. I imagine, and this might be fantasy, Cheshire and Julia sighing with relief at taking over a few neat boxes when I die.
Then, I wonder about this choice of my work right now. I should have been doing it a few years ago! I could have done it right after we moved to Madison, but David would not have given me free reign over all of his papers and so most of what I’ve rummaged through, thrown out, and culled would have been off limits. What about the files of old bills, credit card statements, and receipts? Honestly, I didn’t know how much of that stuff was tucked away in file drawers and boxes. And I might have been gentler with it all if I knew. Now, I slash and burn -- shred and trash. And vaguely, I feel like had I done this a few years ago, it would have changed something. It would be silly to imagine that it would have changed the course of last year -- David’s illness, operation and death. What then? Maybe I wish I could have offered more support than I did. Maybe it would have taken some burden off David, some burden that he asked to shoulder, but that he really didn’t need to.
And I come to my first feeling of guilt. That I let David take care of too much of our lives. I let him guide too much and did not partner as completely as I could have. It would not have changed anything in the end, but a better partner might have given him a bit more time to create, to smile, to enjoy more.