Sunday, June 28, 2009


Today I began The Purge. I've had it in mind to take some of Amanda's favorite shirts, books, and oddments, and put them into her big steamer trunk. This plan had not yet been implemented because it meant two things:

1. I'd have to clear out the crawl-space to find the trunk.
2. I'd have to decide what to put back into the crawl-space. Or, read differently, what to throw away.

The third implied portion of that scenario is deciding what's important enough to go into the trunk, which bears heavily on items 1 and 2. So it's a suck/suck situation, but one that has to be started at some point.

Today was that point. I pulled out box upon box of her old things: baskets of old t-shirts that I'll probably discard because they were, after all, in storage; boxes of her writings; boxes of her schoolwork; boxes of randomia, and boxes full of magazines. And that was just one side of the crawl-space--turns out the trunk was on the other side. Grrr...

So anyway, I kept it together for the most part, but I did break down in tears when trying to preserve all of her actual creative writings. Amanda was deeply secretive about her creativity, and often either left her work unsigned, or signed it A.P. Liddell. It's pretty tough, though, to decide to keep something if it has no name on it. Was it for a class? Was it someone else's writing that she just printed out? For all the world I wish she could have left me better instructions on what to do with all of it.

But then I was left with the realization that her secret nature would truly have wanted it all destroyed. I can't do that. What I did do was to dispose of all her college works except for her Theatre 407 (Direction) materials. I didn't even open the high school boxes, but was able to clean out enough space from the college & work boxes to at least boil all that stuff down to one box.

So I've done something that seems unthinkable: I've boiled 17 years of education down to 2 boxes, neatly tucked away in the attic. It makes a lump rise in my throat just to write that. I mean, this was my wife. She represents 15 years of my life, and I've just put 17 of hers into 2 boxes that will probably never be seen again. How freakin' horrid!

But to have not done it would be equally unthinkable. I can't live in a house full of ghosts, and these things, absent the woman, have no real significance other than as space-fillers. And we is well outta space, lemme tell ya.

The emotional roller coaster left me unable to concentrate on the task of filling the steamer trunk. I did at least pull it out and take a quick glance through its contents. The good news is that it's less than 50% full, so deciding which of its contents to keep shouldn't be quite so daunting. But that will have to wait for another day. Maybe with some darvon.


lordhelmet said...

The lady and I have done multiple purges of our own histories - boiling down and distilling our pasts into the essentials and smaller quantities has never been easy or harmonious. No way could I imagine or understand how hard it is, this task before you. But I'm glad to see you trying to respect the essence of Amanda's character, and balance the various factors. Not that you need to make a shrine, but having something Little A could read through to better know his mom's personality, wit, writing ability, etc, (when he's ready for it) would to me be strong motivation to pick out and preserve the best. Ultimately, though, you're the best judge of what you need to cull for reasons of space and healing, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It takes a strong person to do what you're doing, and I respect that.

As always, you've got my prayers and support over here.

Ev said...

So I'd read the blog, but wasn't expecting to see the boxes by the door. It was hard just lloking at thrm and knowing what they represented. I can't imagine how you felt creating them.

If you ran/run across the plays she wrote for church in high school, I'd love to have copies. I'm pretty sure Amanda had the only remaining copies and there are a few I'd like to do for the church. It would be a cool way to show the people who didn't know her back then how genius she was.

We sang a song yesterday in the 2nd service that makes me think of Amanda and all she went through. I struggled to make it through and watched Arressa & Dana with tears. I'm going to put it on c.d. for you & Alastair and Leigh & Ed.
Its words could've come directly from her.

Let me know when you want/need help with stuff. Leigh & I will come pack up anything you don't want to keep. With three months past, I can now verbalize that there are things I want.

I pray for you and the little man daily. I miss Manda so much.

Samantha said...

I can't imagine what strength it took to get through that, but I can sympathize with you over purging a deceased loved one's items. When I bought my grandparents first and ONLY house that they owned for 55 years at the time of my gma's death, and my gpa went on to own it another year before remarrying and selling it to me.

That's not only 56 years of THEIR history up in the attic of an 864 sf house, but also the history of their two children, their deceased parents, AND their past before meeting each other. It was literally crammed to the ceiling with junk, filling in every nook and cranny. NONE of my family helped sort, they just asked for me to find things for them and hold it until they picked it up. Even giving them 2-3 weeks to get it (they all live within 2 miles of this house, honestly) we ended up purging that stuff as well. It was so overwhelming physically sorting in 90* summer heat and emotionally deciding what was important enough to keep. I never, ever want to do that again.

I am ever so thankful Drew's lifelong accomplishments and memories fit neatly and organized in just 3 tupperware containers. I'm still working on cleaning my memories up. However, my mom is just as much of a packrat as my grandparents were, and she herself said she's leaving her 1500 sf worth of junk for me to sort through when she passes. I can assure you it's all going to end up in the landfill. Memory or not, it's just stuff. The real memories are in my pictures and my mind.