Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Shadows of Our Former Us

Shadows of Our Former Us
Taken at the lake March 2016
the week Ed moved to Longview
After 3 years separated by 300 miles.
Blinded by a big happy.

Today I'm finally getting access to Ed's apartment and will be spending the next several days sorting and packing his stuff and cleaning up his mess.  

I don't know if I'm going to have access to the Internet.  I hope that I will find his phone still working so I will have a way to get messages to my sister or call for help in an emergency.  But even if it is working it may have a lock screen.  

If It does work and is not locked it may provide me a hotspot for getting online with one of my devices.  But I'm not counting on it so this may be my last post before I return with task complete.  I do hope that will be by Friday evening in plenty of time to get rested up for Dewey's read-a-thon Saturday.

I have spent many hours in the past week walking through Ed's apartment shadowing my memories, anticipating what I will encounter and planning my course of action.  I made lists of things I need to take with me: cleaning and packing supplies, lamps, stepping stool, food, audio books and music to listen as I work.  I made lists of things I need to look for: important papers, the guitar I bought him, the poncho, scarves and hats I crocheted for him, my Bullet food processor, my fleece blankets, jackets and robe...  I made lists of tasks and the best order to tackle them.

The plan:

While Carri is bringing stuff up from the van I'll set up sorting/packing station in his office, the only clean room as he stopped using it when his computer died a year ago.  But he broke so many of the vertical blinds off by banging his office chair against them I will need to cover the windows with an opaque film to give me privacy without giving up light.

Find phone and discover its status.  If it gives me access to use as phone then Carri is free to go and I'm on my own.

Clear my path through the living room.  This means removing a low table on the long wall between the hall and the kitchen.  That was always a hazard for me especially in the dark.  But he insisted on keeping it there as that was where his Internet was connected.

Take a moment and have some words with Ed.  Yes I'm going to talk aloud and get some of the unsaid stuff out of my head into the open air.  Maybe it's just an illusion but it is an illusion I need to experience and my counselor thinks it is a good idea.

Have a good cry but set a timer.


Set up my lamps in the living room.  There is no ceiling fixture and the two table lamps are useless and worse than useless.  They just shine in my eyes and don't shine on what I need to see.  My best bet is to shine a bright light against the far white wall or up at the ceiling and let the ambient light fill the room.

Set up the charging station for my electronic devices: androids, USB charged lamps, earbuds, external batteries etc.

Set up my computer on Ed's desk so I can write on a whim.  Maybe write up the events of the day so far.

Designate and clear wall in office for boxed and bagged items I intend to keep.

Designate and clear the corner opposite bedroom door for boxed and bagged stuff I'm not keeping.

Designate and clear living room wall farthest from door for furniture I don't intend to keep kitchen contents I don't want. 

Designate and clear kitchen wall for bags of trash since I won't be able to carry them down to the dumpsters myself.

Now it gets serious:

Clean the toilet passably well enough to use.  Ugh!

Clear his stuff off bathroom sink and clean so I have a safe place to wash my hands, get drinks and set out my personal self-care items.

Make a pass from the least to the most cluttered areas filling trash bags with the obvious garbage.  There will be a lot.  Bushels of it.  I have cleaned up after him many times after I'd been away for a time.  His janitorial skills did not translate into housekeeping skills.

Clear kitchen table and wash it.  This will include papers, dirty dishes and his cigarettes' rolling paraphernalia and mess.

Don rubber gloves and empty the contents of the sink.  There will be a lot of standing water left since who knows how long before he died which was 3.5 weeks ago today.  Stack emptied dishes into boxes lined with trash bags.

Clear the counters, table and stovetop of dirty dishes by piling them into cardboard boxes lined with plastic trash bags.  Wash sink, counters and stovetop.  Rinse dishes for loading dishwasher and run it.  First of many loads I'm sure.

Empty fridge of all spoiled food and wipe down.

Now that it is safe, prepare my dinner which will be something I bring with me needing little prep other than unpacking it and having a clean surface to spread it out.  Eat.  Put away food.

Unload dishwasher into packing boxes.  Load it up again.  While it runs rinse up another batch for the next load.  Continue to return to kitchen to unload into boxes and reload.  Once the obviously dirty dishes are done will likely have to run the dishes in the cupboards through the dishwasher as well as Ed cooked greasy food on high heat which coats everything nearby in grease.

Make pass through living room identifying items I know I will be keeping: his guitar, kindle, crochet supplies (yes he crocheted too) the poncho etc  and move them to the office packing station.

Decide where I'm going to sleep and prepare it though I probably won't be ready for it for hours yet.  Probably the couch since I'm not fancying sleeping on the bed we shared in the room where he died.  The bedding won't be fit to use anyway.  But if the couch stinks or has other obvious issues I may have to sleep on the office floor.  The couch has built-in recliners at each end though and he kept to the end near the door so the one I used when there is probably no worse for wear since the last time I was there.

Once that is settled:

In the bedroom start sorting his clothes.  Begin with whatever is still clean in the closet and sort by quality: worn and/or stained go in rag bag while anything useful packed for giving away.  

I was going to say: Next do same for dirty clothes

But I think they will keep until daylight when I can have windows open.  It will likely be over fifty percent of the clothes and all of the bedding and towels.  It will all be nasty.  There will likely be mildew and noxious odors. 

Will need to sort for laundry loads even though I'm not planning to do laundry while there and cannot bring them home to do up either as Mom's machines are running hard to keep up with her needs and they are both having issues.  So either I'll need to have someone escort me to a laundromat next week or maybe talk someone into washing them in exchange for keeping them.  I may need to wear a mask for this task.  My poor nose is running scared in anticipation.

As I said, they will keep until I wake up.

So I think I've earned the right to relax with a good book or movie as I wind down to sleep alone for the first time in a space I shared with my husband as his widow.


Get coffee and something to eat.  Maybe journal for a bit.

Tasks for day: 

Continue running dishwasher as before.

Empty kitchen cupboards and drawers.  Wash what needs it.  Pack.

Sort dirty clothes as described above

Empty coat closet and deal with whatever I find.

Empty hall closet and deal with whatever I find.

Sort his books.  Keepers?  Probably a few but mostly pack to give away.

Tackle his papers sorting out anything that is obvious junk mail and garbage from what might be important and pack in box designated for Important Papers.

Cut my hair in the bathroom.  (the last time I cut my hair at Mom's my sister kept finding it all over the floor and counter in the bathroom so I won't be doing that again)

Now start a bathroom deep clean starting with the cabinet above the sink then the cabinet below the sink.  Then wash the mirror and cabinet and sink.  Then the toilet.  Then the floor.  Finally the shower and tub.  Top it off with getting a shower and washing my hair.

It's probably time for dinner.  Maybe another movie.  Among the movies I'm taking with me is Game of Thrones Season 2, On the Basis of Sex (RBG), and Dirty Dancing and Grease.  The latter was one of our favorites to watch together and if I watch it while there it will probably be the first night.  Game of Thrones was something we always talked about watching together but never got around to it.  Grease was the second movie we went to together shortly before we married in 1978.  The first being Star Wars shortly before we were engaged in 1977.

Journal and wind down for sleep.


Get coffee and breakfast.  Journal for a bit.

Tasks for the day:

Deep clean kitchen.

Pack items I'm keeping.

Decide if I need to spend another night.

Or if not need, want to.  Maybe to have some more words with Ed.  This time of a more calm nature aimed at releasing him and the past.

0 tell me a story:

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