Wednesday, March 14, 2012


A funny thing happened on the way to rearranging my home office to become a more usable music studio.

I had to move furniture around, as you might imagine. There was the bookcase that held, among other things, the books I'd borrowed from him that became mine after he died. And there was the little cabinet that held what I like to call an ofrenda, but those of you not familiar with Mexican culture would know better (and probably with a slightly more pejorative connotation) as a shrine. On top of it was a picture or two of A, photos of my two dogs that have passed away since A did, and various mementos, symbols, and the requisite candle that I've lit most nights since I first set the thing up. It evolved organically, but has been pretty static for about a year (thank dog), because no one else in my life has died since then.

I wanted the bookcase out of my office entirely, so I moved his books into the library to join the general book population for the first time. I carefully placed all the ofrenda items into a little case until I could decide where they'd land once I was done moving things around, save for the big picture that wouldn't fit.

I was both impressed with myself and apprehensive as I did it; the books in particular gave me trouble early on. I had a meltdown after I tried to take them out of the box he brought them to me in, and had to put them back. It was a few months before I could try again and succeed. To move them out of my office and out with the rest of my books is a big damn deal. And it only took me 5.25 years (tomorrow, which is also his birthday) to consider doing it.

The ofrenda is another thing entirely, but it, too, has been dispersed. As I've slowly gotten my office back into shape after the endless reshuffling, there's really no home for the entirety of it anymore. I put the small things in the keepsake box I have the majority of the A-related stuff in. The pictures and inlay projects now reside on top of my curio cabinet for the moment, awaiting the coming redecoration of this room, at which time I'll probably add them to the gallery wall I'm planning. The prayer wheel now sits on my desk. I moved the candle into my bedroom. And the beer bottle holding an artificial sunflower, a gift from his best friend's wife who made them for his memorial service out of the bottles from the 6-pack he brought to their last gathering (and which I always thought was a little tacky, though I appreciated the sentiment behind it, which is why I kept it so long) went into the recycle bin, the flower joining the other stuff in the keepsake box. The recycle bin! I can hardly believe my audacity, and yet it is clear to me that it's the sensible thing to do, and the time is right.

I'm still not sure what the final disposition of these things will be, but it will definitely will be different, and on a smaller scale than what I had before, if it exists as a recognizable shrine at all. It may not. And that's the surprising thing; that this was even possible. That I was ready; I didn't even know I was ready. I hadn't thought about it at all, really, until practicality trumped my faded need for unwavering stability in all things A. That's how it's gone all along, though. Things lose their magic over time, and keeping them in their place is no longer an analogue to keeping myself stable and together. And I think it happens when the magic is no longer needed, because when it happens, it's not painful.

In this case, my practical need for a functioning, workable music space is a higher priority than preserving a dedicated mourning space. I can integrate the stuff into my home now, I think, because I have integrated the loss in my soul. It doesn't require a special time, a special place; it's part of me. I think A would be proud, and happy that I'm arranging my life, and my space, around my music, rather than around reminders of my grief. He's probably thinking, "about time, baby."

Every time I think I'm beyond any new and remarkable demonstrations of healing, something like this happens, and I think, "whoa--this is big. Go me." It is, I think, wise to respect the pain, and worthwhile to celebrate the healing thereof. I'm a widow; I still want my damn parade (even a tiny little one in my heart) every time I show myself to have healed, survived, and grown. We all deserve that.