It’s amazing the things collected over the years. Things that accumulate and grow with memories, laziness, the not-willing-to-let-go, and…or the maybe-I’ll-use-it-one-day. When two people begin their lives together, they each bring in their own collections, multiplying what’s already there. With each passing year, more things are added on top of existing piles. Then, one day, you stand in a basement full of stuff by yourself, all alone because the person who kept most of the things, your person, died and you wonder, what the hell to do next with all this stuff.
That was my predicament on Thursday night. I had been back in my house from Discovery for less than a few hours. I came home from a great night of winning Trivia and ventured down to the basement to see what needed to be done. And then I melted down. Standing among the wood scraps from this project or that, the album collection Peter prided himself on, the games with all those missing pieces, the broken futon I couldn’t get rid of because Peter made it for me, the tools not needed but were a ‘steal’ from a hardware store sale, the paint cans and varnishes from walls painted long ago, and the books from a Master’s program finished over twenty years ago, I completely and utterly became undone.
I have had been overwhelmed so many times since Peter’s death. Most of the emotional overloads were from trying to comprehend a life without him, without my man who I adored, loved and gave all my devotion to. The overloads came from financial crap and everyday issues like furnace breakdowns and garden overgrowth. But then I started to feel calm again. I accepted Peter’s forever absence in my life and I took on all the challenges ahead of me. Oh, I still had and continue to have bouts of emotions that rake over me in sobs and I fall into despair. Those will always be with me because Peter’s not. But tasks just don’t bother me anymore. And yet, sitting among the what-has-to-be-done to a house so full of the accumulated stuff and projects never completed, was too much for me on Thursday.
My poor kids got the brunt of it as I went on a tirade of how much I needed their help. Part of my breakdown was the unwillingness to accept their terms of how they could help and when. By now you must know I am an impatient and stubborn person. It’s what has gotten me to this point, a point I have been so proud of, a point which kept me moving instead of crawling up in a ball where life couldn’t touch me. So, yes, I embrace my impatience and stubbornness and I also acknowledge how both can be a pain in the ass, especially during a meltdown.
The next day I pulled myself out of the puddle of anxious emotions, yelled a few more expletives at Peter for leaving me in this mess and I suppose for just leaving me, and faced the challenge that was not going to go away no matter my tantrum and meltdown. I pulled my chin up – all of my chins – and said, “I got this. I don’t know how right now, but I got this”. I texted my kids and apologized while still telling them I had to do this my way, on my time. I had to and knowing this, I had to figure out a way. Guess what? I did. I am hiring outside help. It’s not because my kids won’t help, or I haven’t had numerous offers from family and friends. No, I chose it because with what I feel is best for me. It’s how and when I want to get things done. It will be done on my terms. Period. It has to be.
Now, I understand, many will disagree. I know there will be strong opposition to it, maybe even shakes of heads. And I’m okay with all of that. I have learned from the beginning of this journey, those who haven’t stepped a toe on the road I’m on, don’t really know the painful sharp edges I walk over. I mean, I love them. I love their opinions. I welcome their opinions/advice sometimes because I do learn. And I know most of the people in my life come from a place of caring. Of course there will all be those who are just plain judgey and I can’t bother with them anymore. For the people who have been her, are still her, on this fucked up journey, they are figuring out their own path. I’m pretty certain they don’t care too much for mine. In the end, I have to take this journey the best way I know how, while embracing my stubbornness and impatience.
Peter collected and saved so much over the years. In his engineering, brilliant mind, he thought there may be a use for the stuff. And sometimes, he was right. He rigged up ways to paint the top of the stairs, do trim in the bedrooms and create a vegetable garden, all while using the things he saved. Grant it, most of it was never used again and kept accumulating. I think Peter also had a hard time of letting go of things. He was a self-proclaimed pack-rat. Still, looking among the jumbled mess, I get where he was coming from…kind of. I don’t think in inventions and I have never been into keeping so much stuff. I already have to deal with a cluttered mind. I don’t attach to things. But I knew Peter. I understood Peter. I embraced his wonderful mind.
But now, Peter is gone. All the ideas he had for the wood, the tools, the albums, the paints, the varnishes and the books are gone with him. I am left with all the remnants of Peter’s possibilities and still overwhelms, still is anxious, still can cause meltdowns. Yet, I also carry with me pride. Despite all the emotions and reactions sitting among the rubble causes me, I am facing another challenge head on. I’m not sinking back in defeat, rather finding a solution right for me. Who is this girl? This girl who thought she needed to be taken care of? I mean, I’m kind of liking her.