I used my husband’s coffee mug this morning. That may not seem like earth shattering news to most people, but there are those who are in the same situation as I am who will understand the significance of this.
Although I wear his wedding band on a chain around my neck, occasionally wear his watch, and will sometimes wear his shirts just to feel closer to him, his coffee mug was off limits. That was his, and by using it, it meant he wasn’t going to anymore. We all have our favorite things, items which those closest to us know not to use.
While my husband didn’t have an unhealthy attachment to his coffee mugs, we each had a few that we called our own, the ones that fit our hands comfortably, reminded us of a favorite trip, or held the “right” amount of coffee. Personally, I have about 3, which works out well with the dishwasher schedule. And while the dishes were dirty this morning, I suppose I could have taken out one of “my” mugs and washed it before grabbing my cup of coffee this morning, but I didn’t.
And, as strange as it sounds, it wasn’t just a mindless decision. You would think that choosing a coffee mug wouldn’t take deep thought, but this morning, it did. I had a brief (but intense and insane) conversation with myself about magnitude of using his mug.
Me: Not that one.
Also Me: Why not?
Me: Because it’s A’s.
Also Me: But I need a cup, mine are dirty, and it’s not like he’s going to use it again.
Me: How do you know? What if he suddenly comes back and you’ve used it? Won’t you feel bad thinking that he wouldn’t? Think of the guilt you’ll have.
Also Me: Now you’re just being crazy. Shut up, grab the mug, and drink your coffee!
We widows play weird mental games with ourselves. We hold on to his things longer than we should. We buy the things he likes, such as food, brand of toothpaste and air freshener in his preferred scent. His clothes stay in the closet, his razor on the sink, and his tools (and toys) sit in the garage untouched. I recently heard of one woman who wanted to keep her husband’s favorite snacks around and would buy them along with her regular groceries, and another who, rather than allow his favorite foods to spoil, would throw the food away and put the clean, empty containers back in the freezer so they would be there for her to see. We all find our individual coping mechanisms, don’t we?
I have yet to go through his clothes with the intention of giving them to charity, but have already been agonizing over the question “what about his underwear?” Silly, right? Nobody wants my husband’s used underwear, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t want anybody to have them. I thought about giving them to my son, but while passing down some golf shirts or ties seems normal, I really doubt he wants his father’s boxer briefs. Yet, I don’t know if I’d have the heart to throw them out, either. So, what’s the solution? How long can you hold onto the previously worn underwear of your deceased spouse before things just get too bizarre? Perhaps by asking this question, they already have.
There’s still a garage full of “man things”, things that I would never use, and my children wouldn’t (or can’t, in the case of the set of right-handed golf clubs that are too big for my girls – who don’t golf, anyway – and wouldn’t fit my left-handed son). There are tools related to his life as an A/C technician, professional quality drills and torches and who knows what all. I’ll do something with it all “someday”, but I don’t want to rush it, or have seller’s / away-giver’s regret.
So for now, my husband’s things will continue to take up space in the garage, and closet, and drawers, and cupboards until (I imagine) there will come that day when I am ready. When Also Me gets her way and logic reigns supreme.
Until then, I’ll continue to cope in the only way I know how, hanging onto things long past their usefulness or shelf life. If you need me, I’ll be over here next to this basket of men’s underwear, drinking my coffee, preferably from my own mug again, and arguing with myself.
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