Posts Tagged ‘closure’

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about closure. At the time, I thought that if I posted about closure then it would come more easily — and maybe it did. It’s hard to tell sometimes, when the memories will take your breath away and when they will let you rest.

I made a new friend on twitter last week (oh really, can you just let it go). It’s strange to think how easily friends can be made on social media outlets, maybe I’ll conquer that post on a different day. Back to my new friend, Lisa Bonchek Adams. Turns out, on top of being really funny (which is always my first qualification), she is a writer (am I that predictable), a thinker, a survivor. I read a post of her’s recently about her mother-in-law. It greatly affected me, I won’t tell you about it here — you’ll need to visit her site and read it for yourself. But, the name alone, Barbara’s Closet, sent the closure I wanted retreating to a far away corner.

I’ve gone through most of my mother’s things and sorted them for family and Goodwill and me. There are a few things remaining that I’m not quite sure what to do with.

When my grandmother was 81, she moved in with my parents. My grandfather had passed away just a few short months earlier and given her own weakened health, she couldn’t live alone. She lived with my parents for about seven years before she passed away. I remember going in my grandmother’s closet at my parents house — it never dawned on me that my mother never really cleaned that closet out. I don’t think my mother ever gave away all of my grandmother’s clothes. There was always something of her in that closet.

A few months ago, I was cleaning out my mother’s dresser. I came across a pair of pajama’s that I immediately recognized — but they weren’t my mothers. They were my grandmothers — her favorites. I remember seeing my grandmother in those — light blue, satin, pants and a shirt. My mother kept them in her drawer all these years — 13 to be exact. What am I supposed to do with them?

The things left for me to sort in my mother’s closet don’t really amount to much, but they were hers — her favorite things. It was hard to box her things up and give away — clothes, shoes, purses. I haven’t known what to do with the things she was using when she passed away. You know, her purse with all her stuff in it — driver’s license, lipstick, compact, the tissue she was using. The clothes I had just washed for her are still on the dryer. Her make-up, perfume, a half empty bottle of scope, her hairbrush. What am I supposed to do with these things?

I think my lack of ability to “throw out” these things isn’t necessarily tied to an emotional state or memory. I’ve never been one to tie my memories to objects. I tie my memories to senses — a smell, a feel, a taste. But in the case of my mother’s most recently worn clothes, her hairbrush, her purse — I think that my mother might need them again. I keep thinking she’ll need them.

So, for me to do closure, I suppose I need to actually do something with those clothes on the dryer. I need to toss out that bottle of Scope. I need to give away that last purse.

Closure is funny isn’t it? I guess you can get by, get on, get going without really being completely accepting of the circumstance. Maybe closure isn’t about accepting and moving on, maybe it’s about remembering and staying whole.

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A new year is about to begin, I’m ready for a new year. I’m ready to create some new memories. We will ring in the New Year at Disney World — what better place to be at the start of something new (it is the happiest place on Earth).

I’ve made arrangements to go to a luau on New Year’s day. Seems like the perfect combination of sensory overload to kick things off in the right direction. There will be pineapple, and fruity drinks to be sure. A pig roasted in the ground and fire dancers — and perhaps the ever-present smell of burnt hair.

Every Christmas Eve, my family and I gather at church for the candlelight service. I know that singing Silent Night by candlelight should make me all weepy — that’s not exactly the feeling I would describe that takes over my senses — not normally anyway. Instead, this night every year has horrified me to the point of near anxiety attack. You light the candles, hold them up high, walk slowly to the front door — not blowing them out until you reach the door. A disaster waiting to happen — every Christmas Eve.

My mother was a very “made up” kind of woman, in an Elizabeth Taylor kind of way. She never went to sleep without applying lipstick and apply lipstick was the first thing she did when she woke up in the morning (yes, the complete opposite of me — Three Secrets Revealed). She wore panty hose all the time — even with blue jeans. She had enough jewelry to wear a different piece with every outfit, and she loved to shop — even if it was just to look. She had a set time to get her hair done every week followed by a manicure — and she single-handedly made the hairspray business a billion dollar venture (we won’t mention global warming).

So, every year, I strategically placed myself at her side. Making sure there was an adequate amount of imaginary bubble space so that the fumes of the hairspray never came in contact with the open flame. I did very well. There were a couple of close calls over the years (one in which, yes, she ignited her own hair) but nothing that ever caused any more damage than leaving the smell of burnt hair, wafting throughout the church.

There’s a distinct weirdness when you look around for the person you are supposed to protect, and they’re gone. I’ve had that sinking feeling of panic with my kids before. When I’ve turned around at the store and they were gone. Your insides convulse, your heart practically stops, your head spins — if only for the few seconds it takes to locate them. There’s relief at the thought of not having to worry, one day. Relief that you don’t have to stand watch — I hope that doesn’t make us inherently selfish.

Isn’t it funny how smells can bring back memories? There are times I can smell my grandmother’s perfume — as if she were standing right next to me. My children have expressed to me on many occasions how they thought they had smelled their Nanny.

I’m going to miss the smell of my mother’s burnt hair this year, I’m going to miss the stress of worrying how close she is to the flame, I’m going to miss … her. But, amidst all my missing — there’s sure to be twinges of relief, perhaps that is what scares me the most.

I’ll be at the candlelight service on Christmas Eve, again this year. And there is sure to be someone who gets too close to the flame — and the smell of burnt hair will hang in the air… just long enough.

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