A Wandering Widow Post
“It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those experiences that we should treasure. This is the lesson these keepsakes teach us when we sort them. The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”
Ever have that moment where you realize you’ve lost something that was important to you? Not a big thing, but something of great sentimental value? Sometimes you maybe didn’t even know how you felt about it until it was gone.
That happened to me last week. After a fun day at the beach, I got home only to realize that I’d lost my hat. (Yeah, this beach bunny will hit up any beach, in any season, including Northern Ireland in February. Brrrr. ) It’s not expensive and definitely not cute. It’s a blue fleece beanie, functional and lightweight, that doesn’t match anything else I own.
Keepsakes and Coping
This dumb hat was also the only thing of Dan’s I brought with me on this adventure. In fact, it’s one of the few things of his I kept when downsizing my life last summer. My strict packing list meant leaving behind his favorite t-shirts and hoodies, the ones I’d lived in after he died. For a while, I think I wore more of his clothes than my own. Wearing his shirts were as close as I was going to get to having his arms around me again. This is such a common coping mechanism that you can have the deceased’s clothes made in to quilts, pillows, teddy bears, you name it.
I’m not overly sentimental, so eventually, those shirts returned to being just that. Inanimate, over-sized, schleppy shirts that I couldn’t even wear out in public. Things, not memories.
Sometimes nagging = caring
I grew up in the tropics. Winter was new for me when I first moved to Idaho. Dan would nag me constantly about losing my gloves, dressing warmer, and remembering to wear a hat. It was how he showed he cared. I quickly figured out how to layer, and how to buy so many pairs of gloves that it wouldn’t matter if I lost one (or seven) along the way. Hats were the one thing I’d always forget to wear or pack. I knew I’d be traveling over three seasons, and packing was tricky. I laughed when I could almost hear Dan in my ear telling me not to forget my hat, so it made the final cut.
So there I was, fumbling for the keys to my Belfast apartment building, when I realized I didn’t have it. I felt like I’d been kicked in the gut, and I was surprised at how sentimental I’d become about this ugly hat that had started out in the donate pile. Somehow it had become a symbol of Dan still looking out for me.
And then I started laughing at what a dork I was being. It’s just a hat. I’ve remembered to wear it this whole trip, no prompting needed. (I haven’t lost any gloves, either!) Somewhere along the way all of Dan’s nagging made a difference, rerouting the habits that were burned into my brain. I don’t need an inanimate object to remember him; he’ll always be part of me.
But, just in case, lemme know if you find it. 🙂
The Wandering Widow
Live now. Dream Big. Love Fierce
UPDATE: Shortly after I wrote this post I got a message from my friend that he’d found my hat in the car. Yay.