I’ve spent evenings sitting on the floor of our closet squeezing in my hands the socks Jason was wearing during the race. His running shoes were in the clear plastic bag the hospital handed me but I didn’t realize his socks were stuffed into the toes of the shoes until a few weeks after his death. I wanted to hang on to everything that had touched him, so finding his stiff crumbled socks was a simple delight when there were no other reasons to feel happy. His timing chip is still secured around the lace of his left shoe. I can’t remove it because he didn’t get a chance to cross the finish line. I’m having a difficult time facing the finality of death and the horrible reality of never seeing him again. I know I must confront it before I can move forward, but I can’t just yet. There’s no hurry.
I picked his shirts up from the dry cleaners the day after his funeral. The man who owns the dry cleaners appeared genuinely sad when I explained why he was seeing me and not Jason, who dropped in almost every other day. He asked me if I wanted to donate the shirts and I know I responded with the “Are you fucking crazy!” look because he immediately just handed them to me and said there was no charge. I hung them in the closet as if Jason was going to wear them to work the following week.
He bought a new pair of shoes the night before the race. Someone offered to return them to the store but that was unthinkable. They were Jason’s new shoes and he wouldn’t have purchased them if he didn’t want them! They too are in the closet sitting on a shelf still in the box. I open the lid every so often and look inside. I’m not sure what I’m searching for exactly…maybe the possibility of an empty box because Jason has returned and is wearing them! Just one of my many impossible daydreams.
I imagine myself moving from this house some day and moving all of Jason’s things as well…just in case he needs them. I know it’s actually me who needs his things to remain as they are because that’s proof he was here, that he existed as my husband and shared this house with me. I’ve moved things around in the other rooms but our bedroom is the sanctuary. The bedroom will never feel the same again but at least it resembles the past I remember. I thought maybe having Jason’s ashes in my bedroom was more upsetting so I tried to relocate them but that felt even worse. No, he needs to stay in the bedroom alongside his dog for now so we can still pretend to be a family in the only way I know possible now.