I've been trying to help her boyfriend go through all the stuff she's gathered in 23 years of them living together in this house. I've been trying to keep going, but it's slowly breaking me down.
Part of the problem is I've got three different sets of old pain/problems getting dug up on top of mourning my mother. I've got my family of origin stuff, my problems in the wider community growing up here, and my own divorce all wailing my ears in an ugly cacophony of pain and fear and anger.
I was going through a box of craft stuff, and found a carefully preserved plaster hand-print of my younger brother when he was in kindergarten. A box mostly full of pictures of her dog and friends also had a wide vein of my wedding pictures. And old suitcase was full of old pictures of the mine, and several youthful diaries of mine I thought I'd burned. My crazy aunt just got off the phone after haranguing me about the progress on the slideshow for mom's memorial service.
I've mostly got the stuff she insisted I have packed up, but it's going to be a challenge getting it all back to my place. I don't think either one of us realized the scope. An innocent statement of "take my unfinished crochet projects" translates into the reality of multiple large packing boxes of yarn and half-done afghans. Then add in the sewing projects, embroidery projects, the half-finished memory books she'd started for my kids, various recipe/instruction books, canning stuff, sewing equipment, two full sets of china...
And something else neither one of us had really counted on was the amount of stuff that she'd kept from my siblings. Pictures and keepsakes and all those little kid craft projects have been carefully saved in the off-chance that any of them wanted to come back and be part of her life. I'm taking it all, because I think I'm the only one left around here who doesn't want to salt the ground they walk on. I know why they made the choices they made and while they hurt, I don't blame them. Unlike many others around here.
I don't know. I'll know this out somehow. And I'll do my best to do her proud and help her boyfriend through the service and it's aftermath on Saturday. But at some point here I'm going to have to face myself, and I honestly don't know how to do it.