I put the last of her disposable razor heads on my pastel purple razor this morning. I fished it out of a big plastic bag that once held a ridiculous amount of them, along with some hair combs. I couldn’t believe it was the last one. I also couldn’t believe that the supply had lasted so long. I remembered her teaching me how to shave my legs for the first time, and I lost it. I’m lucky I didn’t injure myself trying to shave my legs through the sobbing.
Soon, maybe too soon, after my mom died my sister and I went through most of her stuff and decided what would be kept, what we’d give away or sell, and what we’d toss. Much of that time is a haze for me now. Tomorrow, it will have been 5 years.
We kept a lot of things, of course. Things we would give to our own children, including some clothes that are kept in dress-up boxes in our homes. It’s really quite fun and not at all sad to see the kids play in her clothes. There are also her reading glasses, but these we can’t take credit for. In the weeks before she died, when she could no longer read, she pushed out the lenses on all of them–there were a lot of them–and gave them to us for the girls to wear. We also kept furniture and art that now hangs in our homes, along with jewelry, books, and (for me, for practical rather than sentimental reasons) those razors and combs.
Not long after she was gone, we held a garage sale during which we gave most of my mom’s home furnishings (custom curtains, pillows, etc.) to a single woman for next to nothing. The woman showed up at my sister’s house in the middle of the sale and fell in love with the curtains. They were beautiful, of course, ’cause my mom picked them. But I can’t for the life of me remember what they looked like, just that they were made of heavy gorgeous fabric and that this stranger was fawning over them.
My sister and I had tried to keep any discussion of the origin of the things for sale to a minimum. We thought it might be too macabre for people to know that the pillows they were holding were left behind when a woman died 50 feet away from where they were standing. Mostly though, we just didn’t want to talk about it. Talk about her, at all, with these strangers.
The woman with the curtains was different somehow, so we told her. She then told us how sad she was for us, but that she would take care of the things she was buying. She told us that she’d recently left her husband after a “really awful time” and needed all new things for her new home.
That was it. It was all my sis and I needed to hear. She could have the whole lot. We helped her put our mom’s things in her car. And later we talked about how fitting it was that a woman starting out on her own again, so bravely, would have our brave mom’s beautiful things surrounding her.
So today I used the last razor. It’s clear that she liked to buy in bulk, and also clear that I don’t like to shave my legs as often as I probably should. It’s not so clear how it can feel like her leaving us just happened yesterday. How I can feel like it was just the other night that I was talking to her about a work problem, or a kid issue, or a home decorating dilemma. How a stupid disposable razor could reduce me to tears in the shower.
Really, though, it is clear. The loss of someone you love never leaves you. But more than the loss, it’s the love that doesn’t leave. It’s not “there” in the art or furniture. But it’s there in the empty eyeglass frames. It’s there in the faces behind those glasses, and it’s clear as the eyes smiling behind them. She’s there.