Ben took home some of my dad's sweaters and few of his trademark short-sleeved loud print shirts and a grocery bag of ties, some still stained with Jimbo's Jumbos or whatever other takeout lunches my dad ate in the pharmacy's back room.
For awhile, all of these things hung up in our closet as if Ben was going to actually wear them, but the smell! We couldn't bring ourselves to wash them, but he couldn't wear them smelling like my dad, of course, so we moved them to one of the storage rooms in the basement, a place we often stash Christmas presents.
I have been wrapping presents like crazy. I have the kids' Christmas presents done, as well as Ben's. I also wrapped my family's Hanukkah gifts. (But don't worry-- there is so much more to do). Last night, Ben ventured into storage to make sure I wouldn't stumble upon my own presents when I went downstairs for a round of kid Hanukkah things to wrap, and he must have discovered my dad's shirt stash.
This morning, when I stopped by the laundry room to start a load (the second thing I do every morning-- the first is turn on the coffee pot), I found the Orivs fleece we bought my dad for Christmas last year on the top of the pile.
Of course I smelled it before I threw it in the wash, and then, of course, I cried.
I remember seeing that shirt at Costco when I was on a run for prosseco, take-and-bake pizza, and a particular Transformers remote controlled car for Cooper. I knew it would be a great present for my dad-- the perfect after-work blanket shirt to put on and fall asleep on the couch in.
Last year at this time, I was buying Christmas presents for my dad. It still doesn't feel real. In less than 2 weeks, his birthday will come and go without him, and how can this even be?
Everyone told me it would be like this--that the quotidian grief would get easier to live with but that I would still be so completely and unexpectedly sad sometimes. It was a wave of grief that washed over me this morning in the laundry room as I cried into an extra large Costco half-zip fleece, and it came out of nowhere, or at least it seemed to. I think, upon closer reflection, that it must be there all the time, right? Just under the surface of the everyday?
I am happy to think of that shirt popping out of the dryer warm and smelling like Tide. Ben also likes to wear the normal-clothes equivalent of a snuggie and fall asleep on the conch after work, so it's perfect.
I am so startled to realize with a splash in the middle of a mundane morning task how much we're missing, you know?