Friday, February 26, 2010

For Lent we have decided to something I read about on the Internet and try to get rid of one bag of something every day for 40 days (you get to skip Sunday). Richard, Maria and I are taking turns and then one day is for household stuff. The bags can be garbage, recycling or donations. For whatever reason, we started with Thomas's clothes in the basement. He had left a bunch of civilian clothes in a portable closet (next up, decide what to do with the closet!) and I at least have been tiptoeing around them for the last five plus years. We did dispose of the socks and underwear soon after he died because they were in a small chest of drawers that we decided would be useful and because no one wants to use someone else's socks and underwear! But, he'd left several winter jackets, a bunch of t-shirts, both plain and with logos, two belts . . . actually there was less there than I'd remembered. Some things he had at Ft. Lewis with him and I think those things must be in the trunk with his uniforms. Some things he left with his friend David, apparently the last things he'd worn before putting on his camouflage to leave because when David gave it to us, it was clear he'd just left them unwashed. I was able to dispose of those (after a year of stewing they were not really salvageable). But the things he left at our house: those were hard. I'd seen him wear almost all of it, with the exception of some of the souvenir t-shirts. Some things, we have pictures of him in them.

Anyway, this turned out to be harder than I was hoping. I spent the time in the basement shaking a bit, though no crying (that was reserved for random moments later). Still, I think I can turn the t-shirts into a sort of memory quilt--they really do cover a wide range of his extra-curricular activities from school and church. Not sure when that's going to be able to happen since I have several other projects in line first and my life is not exactly structured for long-range planning right now. But, I can gather them up and keep them safe until there is time to do it.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

I spent a little time on the phone this morning with a photojournalist* who has spent a lot of time in Iraq. He's beginning work on a project dealing with surviving families: we don't quite fit into what he's trying to do right now, but it was an interesting conversation on several levels. First, he clearly understands his topic very well. He's talked to a lot of the families, wherever they are in the journey. That can be really hard for anyone with an ounce of sensitivity, and he obviously has that. Some of his photos are of men who were killed a few days later--he knows grief firsthand. Second, it reminded me to ponder my own reaction to contacts from the press these days. At first, we really did not want to talk to reporters at all: the potential for exploitation was just too great. And then, when we finally had something to say about honoring the fallen and taking care of the survivors, no one was very interested in listening. I think that is beginning to shift, but I just don't want to go overboard on our end. There is a bit of temptation to say "Look at me, look at me! Somehow, we'll have to make sure maintain a balance.

Finally, I loved telling the story all over again (love sounds a bit strange for such a painful kind of retelling, but it does have a sort of beauty about it). I had forgotten how much of a relief it can be to do this. Luckily, this guy is good at keeping people from monopolizing his life and telephone time so we were not on the phone for hours.

On a totally different topic, I recently replaced the chain on the teardrop shaped pendant my friends had given me in Thomas's memory. I broke the very fine chain that it came with a few months ago so I had not been able to wear the pendant, and missed it. I am happy to have it back.

*I forgot to ask him if I could use his name in this blog, and even though published authors are not shy people, it seems courteous to do this. If he contacts me, I'll put his name in.

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