Todd passed away on March 1. The state of Kentucky began shutting down due to COVID a couple weeks later. This meant I had lots of time, in the house, unable to really go anywhere, unable to really visit people, group grief therapy was no longer available, and doctor visits became virtual. I became extremely thankful for my neighbors and my love for crafting!
Since I had an abundance of time, I decided to make curtains for my camper out of Todd's dress shirts.
Yep, I cut squares out of his shirts and sewed the squares together, lots of squares, to make patchwork fabric. Remember, all I had on my schedule was time! I saved the monogrammed cuffs and recalled memories of him wearing each and every shirt as I sewed. The girls helped me arrange each square and it was good to hear them share what they remembered.
The curtain-dress shirt project was finished and the camper was now ready. Even though we couldn't go camping anywhere due to COVID, the camper felt great to just sit in because it felt like Todd was all around me. His shirts and the collection of trip stickers saved on a door frame from a previous camper provided a comfortable feeling.
Just as the camper project was complete, I reached chapter 5 in my Grief Recovery Handbook, discussed in an earlier post, and said, "Uh Oh!" Chapter 5 shares insight in how it is easy to "enshrine" someone you have lost and how the enshrinement doesn't allow you to "complete the pain." (As previously shared, this book is a great resource for anyone that is experiencing loss.) The text states "it is almost impossible to complete the pain caused by death, divorce, or other significant emotional loss without looking at everything about the relationship, not just the positive." “Academy Award Recovery.” The Grief Recovery Handbook: the Action Program for Moving beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses, by John W. James and Russell Friedman, Collins, 2009, p. 53.
This really got me thinking because I had been so focused on the fun memories as we worked through the camper project. Thankfully, the book also provides an activity to help organize memories and thoughts about relationships which has been extremely helpful. As I continue to work through the suggested activity, I am acknowledging the times in our relationship when things weren't so positive. For those that really know me, aka Positive Polly, acknowledging the negative interactions is not at the top of my list.
As I look through Todd's journals, I can see the times when our negative interactions weighed heavy on his mind. He writes about times that he was so angry with something I said or did and after reading his entry, I both remember the event and can almost feel the sick feeling in my stomach because I knew my actions were wrong. He writes about times when he experiences guilt for something he has done that was negative to our relationship. There are events in his journal that I remember in a different way and the perception he communicates produces conflicted feelings in me at times. All in all, we communicated well in our 32 years together so the majority of what I read in his journal had been discussed openly. The hardest negative interactions to accept in my own reflection of our time together are the times when we contemplated separating. Yes, there were two specific times when the discussion of separating came into play. While I don't like to think of these interactions, it is important for me to recognize and not "enshrine" everything. It is important to remember these things because all of it together defines our relationship.
Below is from one of the many stacks of typed journal entries I found when I began cleaning out the garage. (Todd collected typewriters so there was a time when many entries switched from pen to type.)
Finding this entry just drives home the suggested grief recovery activity I am currently doing. So, I will continue to develop my timeline of our relationship, both positive and negative interactions. I will work to complete grief through honesty in what I read and gain from journals, as well as what I learn from others and myself. Bec's journey continues!