He was standing right in front of me, wearing a smart pink sport coat. I could feel his hands on my cheeks, the warmth of his smile on my face as he looked into my eyes and said, “Make each day matter, Kiddo.” As he embraced me with his unmistakable hug I woke up. And just like that, he was gone … again. I took a huge deep breath as tears rolled down my cheeks, yet I felt warmed from his touch. As I lay there crying I heard Cinderella singing, “A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartaches. Whatever you wish for, you keep.”
Keeping this particular visit is just what I intend to do. Because, if you've ever experienced loss, you’re all too aware the pictures, videos, voice messages, texts, and birthday cards can be carefully labeled, stored and revisited for all eternity. But anything new; real visits, conversations and hugs are gone forever. In an instant cherished routines come to a screeching halt. No more lunches, garden walks and talks, weekend getaways or phone calls for me to share with my Uncle Ira. Activities once second nature are now debilitating. Things that brought me joy now bring me to my knees, that is except for tidying.
Even the usual comfort I get from writing has failed me. So, other than purging and organizing, I’ve laid quite low these last two months. No, I have not jumped on the new Marie Kondo Method bandwagon, but proudly admit we do have a lot in common.
The KonMari Method™ encourages tidying by category - not by location - beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.
You see, I’ve been coping with my emotions, issues and stresses this way long before Marie Kondo was even born. The act of tidying allows me to throw all of myself into a focused mental, physical and solitary task. Some may believe I am squelching my emotions or burying my head in the sand, but I kindly respond, “Let me explain.”
The AllisonJo Method of tidying is twofold. Whilst making sense of a messy physical space you quietly handle your messy emotional space too. Though both physically and emotionally draining, the end result is a clear and uncluttered home and heart.
It may appear to the outside world as if I am drowning in a huge pile of things, but I am really wading through my sea of emotions. Sifting through all the lessons Uncle Ira shared with me my entire life. He taught me the importance of doing the right thing even when it is more difficult. He taught me how to make, keep and cherish friendships. He taught me to gift with your whole heart. He shared his amazing knack for entertaining. He developed my love and obsession for gardening and birds. And in his final weeks he taught me how to die. I witnessed how important it is to leave this world a better place by touching the hearts and souls of so many.
So, amongst the piles on my closet floor you very well might find me crying for the man who stepped into my life when my real father stepped out. You may mistake my aches from lifting bags of purged stuff, but really it’s my heart aching over losing a man who helped make my dream of becoming a published author a reality.
When all is said and done, my closet mirrors my life with a new stark emptiness, but also too, it seems a newfound sense of control. It is time for me to take account of this new space—reorganize, repurpose and yes, seek JOY. What to keep? What to donate or discard? What items I choose to treasure my whole life long? It’s time to determine how the endless void of comfort, encouragement, guidance and love my Uncle Ira gave to me will be filled now that he is gone. He may never be by my side again, but he will forever be in my heart.
Moral: “Make each day matter.” Uncle Ira
with love from Ira’s niece,