Carpet is expensive, man.

3 09 2011

Two weeks ago I was blessed with the help of some friends and we emptied my mom’s storage unit. It was a big day with a big (and yet, not big enough) U-Haul truck. We took a load to the house, another load to the thrift store, and, lastly, loaded it up for a run early the following morning to the dump where we took the two beds and all the household trash.

three truckfulls

The following weekend my aunt and I worked in the house again, creating one final trip to the thrift store of all the remaining junk. It was liberating. When I was a child there were several times we had people come and help to clean our house. Each time, I was frozen and incapable of helping. Bewildered. I was overwhelmed and horrified that we were allowing people into our shame – that was the number one rule, to keep the secret. And my mother got frustrated with me each time for not helping more. She felt, and therefore I felt, that I was being lazy and rude and unwilling to help. This is one of those moments where I wish I could whisk child-me away and save her from the emotional torture, because as a little girl, I wasn’t being rude or unwilling, I was crippled. I simply could not. And so now to be able to do the work (and I have had my moments in the last month and a half where I fell back into that little girl and wandered aimlessly, too overwhelmed to focus) and get it done I feel like I’m proving to myself and maybe to my mom that I’m not lazy or rude or any of those things. I’ve worked really hard, physically and mentally and I’ve accomplished a lot.

Happy Thing: EMPTY. DAMMIT.

These pictures show more than just my own work, of course. (You can see some before pics here.) The aforementioned friends put a lot of their own sweat and tears into the house. Doing more than any person should ever have to. Working for hours in a smelly, disgusting dwelling, getting thoroughly covered in dirt, dust, cat hair and grime. Lugging heavy boxes and furniture. It’s a horrible job. And they do it without even one complaint. They do it with love and sympathy and strength and beauty.

Happy Thing: Major Progress

Sometimes, looking at clutter, I am quite literally unable to see which bits are trash and which are not. The first time I noticed this I was about 17 and trying to clean the kitchen where I lived with my mom. The house at this time wasn’t as bad as it was at other times, but it certainly wasn’t your average kitchen, either. I stood there, staring at the stove, and it hit me that I was virtually blind. Everything – the salt and pepper, the used paper towels, the spatulas, the bits of leftover food – looked the same to me. I had to pick up each item alone and think really hard about where it belonged. It was a draining process. This is why living clutter-free is nothing short of essential to me. All the little things become one giant thing. And this is why working in her house has been as hard as it is.

bedroom 1

Shortly after that last really emo entry, my blessed acupuncturist gave me some Chinese herbs called “Happy Tea” and within a few days I was, well, happier. I had been in a really dark place there for awhile and the Happy Tea is helping me to climb out. I’m starting to be able to check things off my to do list, rather than sit on the couch and watch TV endlessly.

walking space! incredible!

And today’s task was procuring carpet for the house. There is no way we can keep the carpet that’s in there. It’s terrible. The back room may be salvageable, I need to double check, but the vast majority of it just needs to be replaced. And I don’t know if I did it all right, but I did my best and I’m happy enough with it and I’m really pleased with the fact that I, well, that I did it at all. I felt overwhelmed trying to find a good price (and, you know, there just isn’t one. carpet is stupidly un-cheap) but I found one that I think is reasonable for me (in that I can’t install it myself, nor can I, like, knit it myself, if that’s how you make carpet, what do I know? so since I’m not a DIY sorta person, any carpet I buy has to come with certain items, like, installation).

bedroom 2

I want to make her house nice for her. I realize this is silly because she is dead and we are selling the house. But I feel like cleaning it out is cleaning out her spirit. I feel like bringing in nice new carpet and drapes is creating a nice spiritual home for her. Taking care of her affairs, putting them right, is healing her soul. This is the work I have to do to ease her into whatever comes next. So she is spiritually clean and fresh, so that she can freely and wholly begin the work that comes after this life ends. I believe the act of cleaning one’s home is symbolic and also directly linked to cleaning one’s soul. And this is how I am caring for my mother. This is the best I can do in terms of making the end of her life as pleasant as possible. Instead of sitting by her bed and holding her hand, I take carloads to the thrift store. But in the end, I have cared for her. And once this is over, that is when I will plan some sort of memorial for her.

yet another carload o' crap

And so, by the end of this month, I plan to have new carpet and curtains, a professional cleaning done, and an estate sale held. The hardest part is done, the clutter is gone, and I can see now where I am headed. But there is still so much to accomplish, and sometimes I still feel overwhelmed and panicky. Just keep swimming.

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6 responses

4 09 2011
bethany actually

Bonnie, you’ve worked so hard! I’m amazed at what you’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time, with a bit of help. I think what you’re doing is absolutely caring for your mom, in the only way it was possible for you to do. And you’re doing it with the same consideration for her spirit that you have for everyone else. That’s one of the things I love about you, by the way: you are so aware that your actions and words can truly impact other people in ways you don’t even know about, and therefore you treat others and the world gently and thoughtfully. That is something almost no one really understands or does. You always amaze me, friend. I’m proud of you. And I know your mom is too. ♥

4 09 2011
ZebraBelly

Thank you, Bethany. That feels good to hear. ♥

4 09 2011
Feed the Cat « Z E B R A B E L L Y . C O M

[…] on that note I went to bed and had dreams (and then also woke up and panicked some more about The Silence, […]

4 09 2011
Sarah

You and your team of lovely people have done a stunning job.
Well done you.

7 09 2011
Jen

This is a crazy, huge accomplishment. You should be so proud of yourself. I’m glad you found something to help you through this process.

What is in this magic happy tea? I could probably use some of that.

7 09 2011
ZebraBelly

No idea. I never ask her what herbs she gives me, but some Chinese ones called Happy Tea. I bet you could Google it.

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