Today I cleaned out The Drawer.
We have antique chest of drawers in our entry way. It came from my parents’ home more then seven years ago. She gave it to me just two months before The Accident. She’d bought it at a garage sale and painstakingly refinished it. It was in their breakfast room for years. It’s beautiful.
It was empty when The Accident happened.
In the weeks after The Accident I filled one of the drawers – The Drawer – with things that are all about Andrew and The Accident:
A sweet picture drawn by a young friend
DVD recordings the local news stations made for us (of their news stories about The Accident)
The bow tie he wore in the dance video we used for the memorial service
His favorite winter scarf
Programs from the memorial service
A ring pop
Memorial program from “Texas, the Musical”
Programs from shows he was in
The Drawer was a convenient place to stuff items I didn’t want to lose but didn’t want to look at. Looking at them hurts. These items have stayed in The Drawer for seven years. They couldn’t hurt me if I couldn’t see them.
This morning she opened The Drawer.
She was just looking around, getting familiar with her surroundings, with her new home. She did nothing wrong. She wasn’t hurting anything. Except my heart, which I quickly saw can be very ugly.
“There’s nothing in there you should touch!” I said too harshly.
She looked at me. “Except the chest. It’s mine,” she defiantly responded.
“No it’s not! It’s mine! You gave it to me almost eight years ago!” I stated. “Don’t open it.”
She quietly shut The Drawer and walked away.
Within an hour she’d forgotten about the whole incident. Dementia assures she forgets things like this. I didn’t. I don’t.
I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I was harsh. I’m sorry my response was so ugly. I’m sorry I have The Drawer full of such things. I’m sorry I have his glasses and wallet instead of him having them. I’m sorry I have video recordings of news stories reporting my son is dead, killed along with four friends. And I’m sorry I didn’t clean out The Drawer sooner.
So, today I cleaned out The Drawer.
I didn’t look at any of it; I just got it all and put it in a box which I put high up on a closet shelf. I don’t have to look at it if I don’t want to.
But I do have to look at her. Every day I look at her. I see her beautiful smile. I see her stunning blue eyes. I see her kindness. I see her need to be taken care of. I see her vulnerability. And I see how I have the power to make her feel unwanted and bothersome or safe and loved with my words and tone of voice.
Now that I cleaned out The Drawer, it’s just a drawer. An empty drawer with no power over me. A drawer she can open anytime she wants to.