Today I finally finished a project that has been on hold since before The Accident. I cleaned our tack room, garage, and workshop. I’ve worked on this project over the last week.
We don’t have horses, but we do have a three-stall stable with a small tack room attached. It’s only about 8 by 10 feet. It was full of tools, lawn equipment, rolls of fence wire, car parts, and junk. Mostly junk. Junk that had collected there the last two years. I could not walk more than two feet into the tack room before Project Cleanup. After cleaning it out, I was able to move some large crates out of the garage. This was the first step to cleaning the garage.
I should have taken before pictures.
Summer of 2013, we had moved a bunch of things around because our adult daughter moved home. Furniture and boxes were moved to the garage. Things were not yet organized when The Accident happened. Within days, we had moved all of Andrew’s things into the garage as well. With a full garage, stuff was piled in the tack room. Since our daughter got her own place and needed furniture, most of the furniture has been been moved out, but there were still boxes and piles of miscellaneous stuff all over the garage. Now it is organized and clean.
Additionally, there were a couple of projects in progress in the workshop. Those projects were abandoned and left on the workbench. As any guy can attest, if the workshop is clean, it’s easy to keep clean. If there’s a mess in the workshop, it will grow and grow. Our mess grew. Our guys would use a tool and just put it on the workbench when done. Rarely were things put away. Tools and parts piled up. Packaging and trash piled up. Tires and bike gear piled up. The mess had grown for two years. Before Project Cleanup, the counters were completely covered with tools and piles of parts. Now the workshop is clean.
I have not had much energy for projects like this until recently. That’s part of why the mess kept growing. Healing from intense grief takes time. Grief changed me. It sapped my energy. I didn’t care about organizing a tack room or workshop. I overlooked the boxes and junk piled in the garage.
Last week I decide it was time. Time to clean out. Time to organize. Time to get rid of trash and junk. Time to put tools away properly. Time to hang unused bike tires out of the way. Time to open the cardboard boxes from Andrew’s apartment.
That was the catalyst for Project Cleanup – it was time to go through his belongings.
I opened the boxes of my son’s clothes, books, and ballet shoes. I opened the boxes that contained his picture frames, knickknacks, notes, and treasures. I opened the box where his brothers had put his mementos and nerf guns. I did it quickly. I did not stop to think or feel. I moved the contents of the cardboard boxes into sturdy plastic bins where mice, bugs, and water can’t damage his belongings. And I put them up on a high shelf, where they will stay until Ron is here to help me go through them. I can’t do that alone.
I have no idea when we will go through those plastic bins or what we will do with his things. I can’t decide that right now. I couldn’t bring myself to even gather the loose change from the bottom of the cardboard boxes. That was Andrew’s change. I dumped it into the plastic bins. All that was his is in those plastic bins. All that he owned. But not all that he was. All that he was is in our hearts.
Some parts of this journey are awful. Some parts of this journey will have to wait for another day.