September 17th, 2012
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I wrote a post in June about my “paper chase” through boxes of memos, computer printouts, handwritten notes and personal writings that belonged to my husband who died eight years ago.  I know.  I know.  Eight years and there are still lots of boxes sitting around waiting for my attention!  So this past weekend, I took a deep breath, decided to dig in and found the time to go through another box.
You can choose to go through all of a loved one’s papers yourself or you can do what a friend of mind did when his wife died: he paid someone to come to his house, box up his wife’s belongings and take them out of the house to donate to various charitable groups.  He just couldn’t do and didn’t want to ask family members or friends to help him.  It was just too painful for my friend and he chose to make a clean break of it by having someone else move everything out.
I could follow my friend’s example but I am too afraid I might miss something valuable.  Not necessarily something that’s worth a lot of money, but something that’s worth a lot to my heart.
I’m not sure what value I would put on this particular box.  At first it seemed worthless, full of things I could easily throw away, and then I came upon a very old interoffice work email that my husband had printed out.
My husband was a very busy man who wrote about serious issues and serious stories of the day. He had a great sense of humor, yet after reading a large amount of his work emails, it amazes me the ridiculous stuff he and some of his male colleagues would email each other about.
With a subject line of “The 5 Toughest Questions Women Ask,” this particular work email talked about an article in something called Sassy magazine; which I’m not even sure ever existed.  The email said that the five toughest questions women ask men are the following:

–Do you love me?
–What are you thinking?
–Do I look fat?
–Do you think she is prettier than me?
–What would you do if I died?

Basically, the email was silly and had an old boy piggy tone to it.  The questions and their accompanying answers continued with the theme that women should be seen and not heard.  I’m sure in his own way my husband thought this was funny or maybe he thought the person who sent it to him was funny but the humor of it escaped me.  If he were alive, my husband probably would have handed to me and asked me what I thought of it.  I’m sure I would have rolled my eyes and said, “Not much.”
This little exercise reminded me not to make my husband out to be a saint.  Not that I ever made him out to be a saint, but sometimes when a loved one dies, with the passage of  time, you forget the nuances and some of the things a person used to do that you found irritating.  This exercise also is making me see my stuff in a new light.

Just as we all do, my husband said and did things that were sometimes annoying and sometimes politically incorrect but I loved him anyway.  I think this is one of the reasons why only people who were emotionally close to the deceased person should go through their belongings for they are the ones who knew the whole person and really and truly understand the context of what the loved one left behind.


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