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Out of the Closet…

I wanted to escape the topic of grief and have a bit of fun with my blog readers, so what better way than to invite you along as I clean out my closet?  Keep in mind that, as the mother of eight children, for most of my adult life I dressed for comfort and easy accesibility for nursing infants and toddlers, and the majority of my wardrobe was bought second-hand. My odyssey towards a new wardrobe began at the Goodwill thrift store when David ended up in the hospital after cancer surgery in 2006. I wanted to look nice when I visited him and while I sat with him during his chemotherapy treatments. When we moved into town and I began attending meetings, working at my sister’s consignment store, and doing public speaking, the need for some new outfits became much more pressing. Conducting workshops and classes made a new wardrobe imperative. Any sense of style I might have once possessed had lain dormant for so long I made many mistakes early on in acquisition of that wardrobe, but I am gradually learning what I like and what looks good on me. I learned,too, that if David complemented me, it meant something. Poor guy, he’d been married long enough to know to bite his tongue if he didn’t like one of my choices, but by not saying anything, his silence spoke volumes. When I asked him about a new black dress, he hesitantly confided that he found it too short. I wore it several times anyway, resistant to the idea that the length might just be too young for me.  It was the first thing I got rid of after his death.

Yesterday afternoon seemed the appropriate time to tackle the closet project. The first thing I noticed as I approached was David’s Iowa Hawkeye cap and his belts and ties on the closet  door. So much for the idea of escaping grief. I put the ties in a donation pile and hid some of the nicer belts inside the closet on a hook. I’ll keep the hat where it is for now.

It was surprisingly easy for me to get rid of all of David’s pants, shorts, and shoes shortly after his death, but I’ve held onto his shirts. My sister Pat thought that might be because it was the shirts I saw and felt every time I hugged him, and that makes sense. Still, each time I reach for something to wear, there is a constant reminder of my loss in the shirts that hang right next to mine. Unfortunately, after just four months, none of them still retain his smell. Believe me, I know this because I sniffed every single one, hoping for just a whiff of that familiar scent before I began organizing the closet. He rarely wore the long-sleeved shirts, so those went into a pile for my sister’s consignment store. The other shirts will stay where they are for now, but pushed farther to the right, giving me more room for my own clothing, and not in immediate view when I stand in front of the closet. Anyone who knew David well would recognize the shirts I’m keeping as they were his favorites.

I’ve also kept one dresser drawer full of his t-shirts that I am not ready to part with.

At first glance of my clothing, you can immediately see I prefer blues and blacks, along with a few bright patterns.

It was easy to eliminate this dress from my closet, the dress I had purchased four years ago for a speaking engagement. I loved the tea/coffee theme, and found it so “cute” when I purchased it on ebay, but just recently saw a picture of myself in it and it just screams old lady!

This dress I will keep. It was one of David’s favorites, and mine, too. I saw it at Maurice’s and saved $25 by purchasing it on eBay, instead.

Two favorite skirts from Lane Bryant sale rack, just $12 each and as soft as a favorite sweatshirt. Casual and comfy, with a drawstring waist and paired with sandals, they are great for grocery shopping, a book sale, or for sitting at the side of the pool while the kids swim. I’ve even worn them bike riding.

Definite keepers of the closet; my favorite tops from Kohl’s, comfortable cotton Sonoma tops, purchased with a 30% off coupon.

Two dresses I have yet to wear; a simple black one from Kohls and this fantastic number from Lane Bryant, which is actually a little too big but I couldn’t resist the deal I got with the clearance price and a high-value coupon from my niece. I love the colors, but am not sure it was a sensible purchase. A little too flashy for a coupon workshop or women’s club speaking engagement, perhaps?

Speaking of lovely colors, this jacket was purchased during my very first speaking engagement at at women’s retreat at the Sinsiniwa Mound in WI. The pricey jacket was on a sale-priced display rack outside of their gift shop, and in a grief-induced stupor, I tried it on. “It’s beautiful,” I said softly to myself as I looked in the mirror, “But way too expensive.”

I swear I heard David’s voice clearly say, “Buy it.”

So I did.

My closet also held too many capri pants (I love capri pants), but since I only actually wear the denim capris and one black pair, the rest are just taking up space, so I kissed those tan khaki capri pants good-bye, along with several black pairs that don’t fit right.

It felt great to accomplish something I’ve been putting off for awhile, and how nice it is to see a well-organized closet.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Reporter for the Manchester Press newspaper and popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015.

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