Project Cleanup Complete!

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.

7 thoughts on “Project Cleanup Complete!

  1. Pingback: #Declutter2016 Challenge  | kathleenbduncan

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I love your heart and the way you tell your whole story, even the hard parts. Michael left for college a mere 17 days before he left for Heaven. We had not even begun to get used to him being away at school. Everything he owned went with him in the back of his black 4 Runner to his dorm. The monks at the Abbey packed his dorm room back into his car (after the campus police located it) so that we wouldn’t have to, and we brought it all back from NC to Memphis. It took weeks to even move it from his car into his room. Months more to even sort it or wash his dirty laundry. We hung his clothes or folded them back into his drawers. A few things his siblings have claimed up. The high school shirts are on his little sister, who was barely a week into her freshman year when he got sick. The soccer things have disappeared upstairs. We see them when his baby brother goes out on the field, proudly showing off his Bubby’s gear. His best friend came by around Christmas and I let him choose a few things that had memories attached. He sends me a picture every time he wears one. (That boy. I love him. But another story for another day.) After that, nothing has been moved. Our oldest daughter had moved home from a little college house in April, we lost Michael in August. (Sounds similar!) Her furniture and boxes and things took over. Our youth did have a huge yard sale to raise money for missions, and she was willing to donate nearly all of it. We cannot walk through our garage. My husband’s tools and projects are in disarray but we haven’t had the energy to do anything about it yet. It’s finally on my nerves, though, so maybe I can do a bit at a time. Soon. Michael’s room? Not today. (BTW, my Michael was born in Amarillo. We saw Texas when he was a little guy. Small world we live in.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andrew had been in his apartment only two months.

      There is no hurry to go through his stuff. It’s not taking too much space or causing problems. I am glad his room at the house had been empty of his things girls over a year and then his sister moved into that room. I don’t have to walk past “his room”.


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