Since there is no rule book on how to resume life after you lose your spouse/children’s father, we’re making it up as we go. And let’s be honest, if there was a rule book, I wouldn’t have followed it anyway. It reminds me of all the baby books we read with our first – sleep training this, attachment that – it was good information to have but every child was different. And it made me feel crazy and inferior if my kids didn’t fit the mold expected in those books. So we let go, prayed a lot, and did our best to meet each child’s needs as individuals. Likewise, we each grieve differently.
For me, the daily reminders of Simon being gone are the hardest. His wallet, keys, and phone were placed in a bag at the hospital and given to me. The wallet is worn and slightly curved in the same shape as his little butt from the many years in his back pocket. His keys. The infamous keys. He misplaced them weekly. I was almost always the one to find them. I had to go way outside the box in that quest. They have been placed in the kitchen utensil drawer, the refrigerator, underneath pillows, and a myriad of other obscure places. I couldn’t have figured out his thought process if I was married to him another fifty years. And his phone. I haven’t deactivated it. He still gets a message every few days from people that know he has passed but wanted to hear his voice and thank him for his friendship.
We bought our first home 18 months ago and set it up together. Every furniture placement, paint color, and picture hung was a joint decision. I made some simple changes in the house to make it more my own. Our king size bed was moved to the guest house and replaced with a queen. I bought a girly comforter because there will only be a girl (me!) in that bed unless God drops a new husband through the ceiling. Furniture was rearranged and downsized. I also took down pictures of us as a couple and replaced them with pictures of the kids. There are still pictures of Simon in the kids’ rooms and that is their territory to navigate. I absolutely plan to keep his legacy alive, just not through glaring memories of much better times staring at us in every room. Maybe later. It’s still too raw.
Simon’s car sits in the driveway. He was so simple and never cared much for material things except that car. We were given a bit of money a few years back and encouraged to spend it on an immediate, practical need. We NEEDED a car. Simon NEEDED it to be a manual Mazda 3 sport hatchback. It was his dream car. He kept it relatively clean and happily offered to stuff all five of us in it when we had to go places even though our minivan was wayyyy roomier. He has stickers of the Texas flag and a New Orleans jazz radio station on the rear window. When I stand at the kitchen sink to do dishes (which was usually one of his jobs), I see that car. It makes me really happy and really sad. Most likely it will be sold along with our other car and we’ll get a newer, more reliable minivan or crossover.
The garage was Simon’s man cave. I couldn’t even begin to tell you the rhyme or reason to how it was organized or what half the stuff in there is for. But as long as he got his family chores done, I didn’t question his space. He had a work area where he would do projects, file paperwork, write in his journals, and rotate pictures out on his corkboard. He had his dart board, his bookshelf, his strategy games, and many tools – some new and some that were my grandfathers. I go in there for laundry and that’s about it. I know lots of stuff about lots of things but not tools. We’ll shelf the task of going through all that to a much later time. Simon’s trusted mens group from church could probably come over and, between the handful of them, help name and categorize all the treasures. Thanks in advance, gentlemen.
The rest of Simon’s stuff sits. We’ll eventually rewash the clothes and vacuum seal them for the kids to go through when they’re older. The boots will be polished and packed away. His knives and all the jewelry he has given me have already been cleaned, tagged, and are headed to a family safe for the kids future birthdays and achievements. He had an entire closet devoted to his dream job at Amtrak. His uniforms, work shirts, tools, and training materials. That’s also going to be a hard one to sift through. He only had the promotion for six months before his diagnosis and was so excited to go in to work every day.
This all reiterates the point that Simon kept repeating during his last weeks. While he wished for more time, he really did get every earthly thing he wanted in his short lifetime. He got the wife, the kids, the friends, the job, the car, and the house. And of utmost importance, he had eternal salvation through Christ. His work here was done. And his life is continuing to make an impact through so many people. I’ll miss him forever but can confidently say it was a life well lived.