Friday, September 12, 2008

Boxing Up the Past

Things have been hectic, to say the least. We put an offer on a house last night, and it was accepted. Yay! But now comes the less-than-fun part of cleaning up Craig's house and my house and putting them on the market.

Craig's house will be relatively painless. Sure, he's got a catch-all room that needs to be cleaned out, but even his junk room is neat. Perhaps I'll put him in charge of junk in the new house.

My house on the other hand, not so much. I have a clutter problem. If I can keep up with it, then it's not so bad. But once it starts to creep out of control, BOOM! Piles of clean clothes here, junk mail there, receipts over here, and all the mess in between. I get overwhelmed and think "there's no way I can clean all this up!" and so I go outside and play with Maddy.

However, the time has come to face facts - the chair under all that laundry is supposed to be used for seating. I suppose I should put all that HGTV knowledge to use.

So, after we tackle Craig's house, we tackle mine. We will do one room at a time and employ the three box rule - keep, pitch, donate.

That's all well and good in certain rooms but once I get upstairs, things change a bit. How do I throw away Jessica and Kelli's things?

Jessica's room isn't going to be hard to clean out, clutter-wise. She was never a packrat, something she obviously did not inherit from me. As a matter of fact, she did a huge purge of her room last summer, getting rid of old school papers, outgrown clothes and shoes, and her shoebox and shopping bag collection. Seriously, do you need all these Express and VS bags?

Kelli's room is a different story. She's got pictures, knickknacks, notes, books, Jonas Brothers posters - oy vey. Very much a typical 14 year old girls' room. Her dresser is covered in lotion bottles, mascara tubes , junk jewelry, and miscellaneous things that mean nothing to me but probably represent something that was momentous in her life.

Clutter aside, it's deciding what to do with it. What do I keep, what do I store away for Maddy, what do I throw away?

Can I handle going through their clothes? The purple satin shirt Jessica wore to Dane Cook, the halter top she wore to Dave Matthews, the dress she wore on her first day of college or even her favorite PJ pants from 6th grade. Kelli's cheerleader outfit, the Forever 21 shirt with the cherries that she LOVED, her red striped polo, her skinny jeans that were her favorites.

Someone suggested having a quilt made of their clothes. I think that's an excellent idea and something I'm going to definitely look into. Know any crafty quilting types? Send them my way.

I'm also going to set aside things for their friends to go through and take, if they want. As much as I'd like to keep their rooms intact and not change anything, I know it's not going to be that way. I miss them but we've got to move forward. I don't want to just box it up and have to go through it again in the future.

In our new house, I plan to make a special corner just for them and display their pictures and their collectibles, like Jessica's shot glass collection, Kelli's snow globes, and all the angels figures I received after they died.

They'll never be forgotten, regardless of whether I have their things or not. But it's nice to have something tangible to hold on to.


Melody said...

Sounds like it you have a funny, sad, happy, and cathartic day headed your way. Congrats on the new house!

Cricky said...

When Nicholas died I had no idea what to do in order to pack up his stuff. All of his big-boy toys were still in boxes since he was only four months old so we donated them to Toys-For-Tots.

I have a small cedar chest that is packed with his special clothes and mementos but the rest was given to families I thought could use it.

It was truly one of the hardest things I had to do and I don't wish that on anyone.

I'm sending thoughts and prayers for you to have the strength.

A Buns Life said...

Before you start, take a lot of pictures, or video tape their rooms so you can remember what they looked before you sort through everything. Have Maddy help and pick what she wants to keep. It will be hard, but healing too....hugs to you both!

Congrats on the new house!!

Anonymous said...

congrats on the new place and good luck w/ packing.. I can't imagine..but I have issues w/ throwing out my own things from the past.. oy vay..

Lynn said...

Girl, as soon as you called last night, that's the first thing that went through my mind. If you want company, please let me know when you're doing it. I would love to laugh and cry through it with you, and I'm sure Heather would, too. I would totally understand if you didn't want company.

I think you have a very good plan already - keeping some things, giving others away. The quilt thing sounds COOL.

Liz said...

Wow, congrats on the new house! That's VERY exciting. I hope you two celebrate tonight. I remember getting our house just before we got married and it was truly one of the happies moments of my life.

As for the packing, I was thinking the quilt suggestion before you said someone mentioned it. And I like the idea of letting their friends come over and have things to take with them. Hope the packing is relatively pain-free.

Meesh said...

That will be a hard day, but it sounds like you have a great plan and loving friends and family to get you through it.

I too can't stand packing and moving. I refuse to do it again. Congrats on the new house!!!

jill said...

having been in this situation,I feel for you. I put a lot of Ellese's special things in a beautiful box to keep just for her. I gave things way to her best friends, and her sister of course kept some of her things. This is a very draining job. It's best you can do it slowly. Go in and just do a little at a time, The first day is the hardest, but it will get easier. I'm so sorry for your loss, I wish I could help make it easier. It's been almost 3 years for me and time does help heal, but nothing is ever the same.

Simply AnonyMom said...

I have not experienced what you have. I just wanted to say that you are so strong and I will be thinking of you and your family as you pack. I am sure your girls will be there and are OK with however you decide to do it.

Frogdancer said...

As soon as you mentioned the new house I thought of the girls' rooms.

Not being a pack rat (who an odd term...) I love the idea of a quilt. Practical, yet sentimental at the same time.

This is a hard job, but no matter what happened, it was a job that would have had to be tackled at some stage. Keep a few precious items... there's nothing gorgeous or precious about clutter. Good luck with it all.

(And congratulations about the new house.... very exciting!!)

Magsie said...

I read your blog regularly and have not commented before now as I don't know what to say to someone who lost something so precious as two of her daughters other than I am so sorry for your loss! I do have an idea, though, about the quilt someone mentioned you should do- which is an excellent idea at that. (I make quilts, but I'm not all that great at it and have minimal time.) You know how you read a blog that has a link to another that has a link to another? Well, that's how I found this:
I don't know if she would do this for you, but you can ask, right?
Good luck, God Bless

Lisa said...

Congrats on the new house and the engagement. How cool. YEAY!

The quilt is a great idea. And I think it will mean a great deal to the girls' friends that you've put aside a few things for them to keep.

Anonymous said...

Kim, you know you don't have to go at this alone. We'll be there for you anytime you want it. We will be there bearing a particular bottle of grape elixer!

Honestly though, if you want someone to share in that difficult, albeit necessary experience, we're just a phone call away.

Whenever you're ready, kid.

Love you,


Zookeeper said...

What a mix of emotions! At least there is a wonderful and happy reason for you to have to do this difficult job. Hang in there!

Linlee said...

Congratulations on the new house! The quilt sounds like a wonderful idea!!

Cheryl Kirby said...

I have hesitated in posting this because you are getting so many ideas of how to preserve your daughters' memories, their things etc., but if you want yet another idea that I have used a couple of times, please contact me at and I will share with you what I did. It was a big hit with my family.

Shutter Bitch said...

When you mentioned house hunting the other day, it never occurred to me that you would have to pack up every room, including Kelli and Jess's rooms. You seem to have a good perspective on it, but if you need a shoulder, you can call me.

I like the quilt idea as well. There's a blogger, Frogdancer, (can't remember her URL) who does quilting. Maybe you could send the clothes to her?

anne said...

I actually did a quilt like this just this summer. I just found your blog today, but I would totally be willing to sew this for you. It's super easy and I would enjoy it as well. :) I live in Michigan so it would involve some shipping, but that shouldn't be too big of a deal.

MaLeah said...

I think is a great idea to give some of the girl's things away to their friends. I'm sure they'll appreciate them very much and cherish them always and I'm sure your daughters would have liked this idea. I also love, love the quilt idea and it will be something you can keep forever instead of having lots of clothing to try to figure out what to do with. What great ways to remember them!