His closet was empty now

Mom gave away all of Dad’s stuff. Everything; his closet stood empty.

“Why do you have to give everything away,” I said.

“Someone else can use these things,” Mom said. “You can keep whatever you want.”

But I didn’t want specific things. I wanted all of it to just be there just like it always had been. I went through Dad’s closets and drawers, hating Mom, taking shirts I remembered well, polka dot boxer shorts, a gold tie. I went through and took things to keep from losing it all.

Then she gave it all away in big piles, big draping piles of shirts and slacks with nice creases down the front and bags of shoes, shiny shoes with tassels.

On the bright side, empty closets do have that neat echoey effect

On the bright side, empty closets do have that neat echoey effect

And once it was gone it was all gone, forever, and I wondered if Mom understood that. I wanted to shout at her that we wouldn’t get any second chance at this, that there would never be another set of Dad’s things, that there was this finite universe of all the things he’d ever touched and used and worn and that carried his scent, and if we gave them all away that was it, they were gone forever.

Though the relief in all this was that my brother and I shared certain knowing moments. Like when our cousin walked in wearing Dad's shiny leather shoes. This cousin was maybe a tad self-important, and damn if he didn't look ridiculous in Dad's fancy shoes. So my brother and I exchanged a look, a little smile. You know:  Sometimes things are so heartbreaking, they're funny.

(If you want more on this topic, Modern Loss has this great article on sorting through what's left behind.)