I came across a shirt yesterday. A man’s dress shirt, fine white cotton,athletic cut, french cuffs, beautifully made. It was David’s favorite shirt, it fit him well. It showed his wide shoulders, long body, and small waist to best advantage. He looked damn good in it. Nobody else could ever wear that shirt.
I laundered it, pressed it, and hung it my closet. His closet in now my closet, just like everything else he ever had. Most of his clothes are gone, I’ve keep a few things, most are packed away, but some things stay. The good things, the things that defined him, the things that made him unique.
When your love dies, in some ways, you become them, not just legally, but in a much deeper sense. You are the closest thing left of them, you incorporate them in ways you never thought possible. Just as you could finish their thoughts in life, you finish them in death. You have their voice. It can be so intense sometimes it’s hard to tell your voice from theirs, but there is no confusing the source of that voice.
You hold on to the irreplaceable, the core of who that person was, the preciousness of memory. To suggest they could be replaced is an impossibility, it denies both my worth and the strength of the true memory of my love. Nobody else could ever wear that shirt, and I would never pretend to dress anyone else in it. It belonged to David.
There is a strange duality to widowhood, if you haven’t been here, it’s hard to understand. Having loved doesn’t keep you from loving and sometimes the message on both sides of the unmistakable border of what was, and what it is now, is the same. Don’t let go.