Clearing Out Your Closet
I sat on the bed and watched. He opened the door to your closet and started removing the clothes that hung there, one hanger at a time. He would hold the shirts to him, breathing in deeply to find a hint of your smell. Then he would roll the shirt up and place it in a large black plastic bag. After about five empty hangers had been replaced, he had to come and sit by me on the bed to cry. It was only two weeks since you had died, but he felt that he needed to let go of you, so he was there, clearing out your closet. So much like him, eh? He never seemed to hesitate when he made up his mind.
He found a beautiful beige and black horizontally striped sweater that had been yours and offered it to me as a token of remembrance. I still have it eighteen years later, but I have never worn it. I remember those beautiful clothes that he wadded up into bags and then donated to a charity. A friend of mine told me later that some charities bulk ship their clothing donations to Africa where they are sold to locals in stores. When he lived in the poverty stricken areas of Mali, West Africa, the locals called these stores by a curious name: “Dead White People Clothes”.
I can not believe that it has been eighteen years since you died. All those tears fell so long ago. The rest of us did our best to be with your partner to make sure he kept well, but you probably know better than we do that he left us last year. I hope you are together again. He never loved in the same way again, holding back a little bit for you.
Categories: HIV/AIDS memories