They say that having a good old spring clean is re-energising and gives your home a new lease of life. That’s not strictly true if you’re a widow and have mild hoarding tendencies like me. She touched these Crayola pencils! I must keep them because I’m going to take up zen colouring in art therapy. This was her boarding pass for the flight to Vietnam! I must keep that because the flight was delayed and maybe I’m entitled to compensation even though that was in 2012. These are the drawing pins she used on her notice board at university! They might come in handy when I buy a notice board at some point in the distant future.
Cleaning stuff out is painful. God forbid my reaction when I finally decide to move house. There are memories in every drawer. Even the bloody drawer (sob, she touched this drawer knob). Small decisions to others are huge, emotional decisions to widows. ‘Ask yourself if you’ve used it in the past year,’ they recommend to normal people who are looking to de-clutter. If I ask myself that of many items, the answer is ‘no’ and depending on my fragility that day, or my blood alcohol level, I may or may not wail and cry when responding. Most of it was used by my wife. That’s why it hasn’t been used. That’s why it’s so hard to let go.
I have let go of a lot and it’s an ongoing process. I’ve had a massive kick up the bum though last week and had to clear out my second bedroom and bathroom. Stripper Friendly Gin Drinker came round and helped with some of it. She’s one of very few who I trust. While I’ve thrown out a lot of my wife’s things, and her best friend worked up to collecting a box I’d been keeping aside for him all this time, I’ve also moved in something pretty fucking big – a 24 year-old Parisienne. It’s one of the contributing factors in my recent bout of low moods; I had to make space for a housemate and I am not so sure about having someone else in my space. But you see, being a widow isn’t cheap and I’ve lived solo for nearly two years now, spending more money each month than I earn and eating into savings. Add to that all those holidays taken to avoid the significant dates – Sharm El Sheikh, Madrid, Budapest, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, St Lucia, Paris, Courmayeur and soon to be Vegas – and my bank balance it precariously balancing. My wife was the rich one and she royally fucked me over. I need the extra income.
This is all incredibly emotional for a young widow. This was my marital home. This is where my wife and I were building our life together. This is where we’d come home to after a long day and complain about work. This is where she’d cook and I’d wash up. Since Friday, my home has also become home to a lovely Parisienne. She’s a stranger off the internet. Apparently to non-Londoners, sourcing a lodger online sounds horrifying but I can assure you that it’s pretty standard practice over here. She might be psycho – I don’t know. Chances are though that I’m going to be the difficult one to live with. I haven’t yet disclosed that I’m a widow. She’s surely seen my wedding pictures on display in the hall, and the votive candle holders with my initials and someone else’s. She’s surely puzzled as to me talking about Tinder Girl #5. I wonder when the questions will come and I have to come out as a widow all over again. I wonder when she’ll discover me sobbing on the sofa or arrive home to me in a rage and throwing ice cubes at the wall. I wonder if I’ll ever tell her the full truth – that my wife hung herself in my bedroom.
I confess that the company this weekend has been really lovely. Parisienne and I laugh and we already click. She let me have a chocolate cookie and I made her a smoothie in my new Nutribullet. For a second though, in the small hours of this morning when I heard the key in the lock, in my disorientation, I thought my wife had come home post clubbing. I rolled over. Then I cried myself back to sleep silently when the realisation hit. God I miss that wife of mine. I wish. I wish so many things. And none of them can come true anymore.