Monday, August 30, 2010

Cleaning Out

You know those reality shows - the ones where a team of "experts" go into a house and help people who've managed to bury themselves alive in STUFF?? It's a guilty pleasure and I'm a bit ambivalent about watching. On the one hand it's downright irritating that those slobs get all these free renovations, but I also itch to help the experts clean out all that junk!

We hang on to the stuff in our lives for lots of reasons. Sometimes we don't even KNOW the reasons. And sometimes we need an outside party to arbitrarily sift through the mess and force our hand.

I've felt, for some time, as though I’m slowly being emptied…or perhaps being scoured clean would be a better way of putting it. I feel as though I’ve lost so much in the last couple of years – not necessarily possessions…not “things" so much, but relationships and bonds…and ties that bind. Some, I admit, I'm responsible for and I'm blaming myself for those a lot...but there is also another Hand that seems to be doing much of the scouring.

It feels like there are rooms in my heart that are closing their doors forever.

One loss is very recent and has been hard to accept. My dear friend Vicki succumbed to her cancer two months and one week ago today. I still cannot believe that she is gone, that I won’t pick up a phone and hear “It’s VICKI!!” ever again. That we won’t share any more laughter or adventures.

Other losses are more difficult to put an end date to. But it seems they ended just the same. And the grieving process doesn’t change.

There are major changes on the horizon – losses again…that I’m trying to come to terms with, but it’s difficult when I'm still dealing with these recent changes and the sense of bereavement. It requires a shift in perception and in operation.

My Dad is currently in a nursing/rehab facility, recovering from a fall he had almost a month ago. He’s doing fine now, but I’m trying to figure out how we’ll deal with things when he comes home. I hadn’t expected him to ever be able to do that…but he’s progressed well, and at nearly 93 amazes everyone who works with him. (My assistant director calls him “the energizer bunny.”)

My main concern is his safety and well-being. I'm gone ten hours a day and he'll be alone. And our house has four levels, with three stairways…his bedroom is at the top, next down is the kitchen and another level down is the family room – where his big-screen TV and recliner are…and the fireplace. So I’m thinking of turning the living room into a bedroom and bringing the TV and chair upstairs. That means, of course, moving lots of furniture (and getting rid of some) and wiring the living room for cable…and that means more shifts in perception and operation.

While he’s been gone I’ve been deep-cleaning his bedroom and the office upstairs. And since it has involved organizing files and cleaning out drawers and closets, I’ve been seized with the desire to go through the entire house and de-clutter our lives. Perhaps, in keeping with my own personal losses, I need to lose some of the temporal things that have begun to feel overwhelming and burdensome.

When I find myself alone - even more alone than I feel now (and I will) - I will also find myself in a smaller space, with no room for all the combined collection of furniture, books, kitchenware, clothes, knick-knacks…etc, etc, etc (BIG ET CETERA!) that I (we) have managed to accumulate over the years.

Perhaps the Lord has slowly been preparing me for the solitary life I will be leading soon. And this desire to de-clutter is just an extension of the scouring out…the cleaning out...of ME.