Thursday, June 5, 2014

Feeling Sentimental About Your Briefcase

Dear John,
 
I'm getting things together to leave town tomorrow. I'm working until 3, then I'll come home, get dog and suitcase, and head out. I'll drop him off at the vet on the way to Springfield. I wanted to get the lawn mowed before I left, but the rain didn't allow it. Trash is out, laundry is done, bills are paid, extra cat food is out, water dispenser is filled, floor is vacuumed. And I have everything packed as far as I can before morning.
 
It's so much easier to travel in warm weather, isn't it? I'm taking the smaller suitcase, the one you used, instead of mine. Summer clothes don't take up very much room. And I'll only be gone for two nights. I won't need very much.
 
It's the same as yours!
I feel a bit sentimental about taking your suitcase. You always took that small one, I took the one a little bit bigger, and books and things went in your briefcase. Now they go in my knitting bag; I can't bring myself to carry your briefcase. I can't bring myself to get rid of it, either, no matter how bad it looks.
 
I got it for you one Christmas years ago - I got it from Lands End, and had your initials monogrammed on it. It's held up wonderfully, under the circumstances. It's old and dirty, greasy from being carried to restaurant jobs for so many years, stretched all out of shape, and it smells like pizza. I spent a year after you died going through it a little bit at a time. I couldn't bear to turn everything out at once. Every month or so I'd wander into Panera with something else I'd found it in that needed to be returned to them. I finally reached the bottom, but then I put some of your things back into it - that's where they've always been, and it's where they still belong.
 
It lives in the workroom closet now - I moved it there from it's previous place in the laundry room, where you could get to it easily before you left for work every morning. We had to put it behind a closed door because it had so much spilled food on it that the dog kept licking it. He still tries to, so it's it the closet where he can't get to it. Sometimes I go in there to just look at it and touch it, and sometimes I can't bear to look at it. Widowhood is an inconsistent thing. What's constant is the pain, the wanting you back, the not wanting to be alive. How that plays out changes from one day to the next, sometimes from one minute to the next.
 
If I could crawl inside your briefcase, would you come get me?
 
Miss you with all my heart,
Joan.

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