1) Learned to use a drill. I found about 45 of them in the garage, because in our younger days (and poorer days) Ben used to build everything for us. I always told him that if he ever got fired from the Force he could be a carpenter. He was really that good. Once he built my mom and dad a gorgeous oak bar which they still use regularly.
Most of the drills are too heavy to be practical for me to use, but I did find a “girl” drill. And I learned how to charge the battery on it, courtesy of Zak. Yesterday I used it to remove a bunch of clips that were holding speaker wire to the wall, AND I figured out how to remove all the wire. Which brings me to number 2
2) I learned how to unhook speakers and pull all the wires out of the wall.
3) I have learned how to be practical and get rid of “things.” Ben was not sentimental that way. Despite the fact that he kept everything, it was more out of laziness than sentimentality. He always said that “things” are just “things.” You can’t take them with you when you die.
So I have been selling a lot of stuff. Things that just clutter the house and therefore my mind. And I have given items that Ben loved to people he cared about who will also enjoy them, and will care that they belonged to Ben.
Nancy now carries Ben’s “man purse” around. He liked to call it a “bag” or a “satchel”, but the kids and I always told him to call a spade a spade. It’s a purse. Nancy likes it and uses it for work, just like Ben did.
Jeremy rides the stationary bike that Ben spent hours riding. Well, I think right now Jeremy is just circling it from a distance, but he will ride it soon I’m sure.
Jeff has Ben’s challenge coin. I put it in a frame with two pictures of them and photographs of the very humorous text conversation they had when Ben first got sick. It hangs in his office at work.
Zak wears Ben’s watch. Raegan wears Ben’s sweat pants. (Yes, you read that right. Little Raegan walks around in Ben’s sweats constantly). Zak also has adopted Ben’s electronics because he’s the only one who appreciates them. Jaime has a framed picture of the notes she and Ben wrote each other.
Peter has a guitar that Ben left especially for him. Ben tried twice over the last year to tell Peter how much it meant to him that Peter had quite literally saved Zak’s life. Both times Ben tried to tell Peter, he (Ben) became too emotional, so he asked me to give Peter a particular guitar and tell Peter how he felt. I hope I was able to adequately pass on Ben’s message .
The list goes on, but the point is that other then the particularly sentimental items, the rest is just “stuff.” And “stuff” is just clutter which creates chaos of the mind. So goodbye clutter.
4) I have become more patient and understanding. That probably stems from the entire last year and not just since Ben died.
5). I have paid bills. I’m working on the budget.
6). I have slightly chilled out regarding my hypochondria. Mostly because, to be honest, I tend to think about two things when I’m worried about my health. The first is that I miss Ben so much and I really want to see him again. Don’t freak out – I don’t say that in an “I want to die” sort of way. I don’t. That’s not what I mean. I just miss him so much and I know he’ll be waiting for me when the time comes. So therefore there is less point in freaking out about little aches and pains. The second thing I think of is that nothing I can ever go through will be as bad and painful as what Ben endured. Not physically, anyway. So I will just try to take whatever comes as it comes.
7). I made the decision to install central air conditioning. I got estimates and made the decision myself. And I got a new hot water tank. That is not something I ever would have done before without deferring to Ben. I do wish I had insisted on the a/c last year so Ben could have had some relief from the heat.
In the meantime, I continue to be blessed with the best of family, friends and neighbors. Yesterday I received an unexpected knock on the door and found Jim there with a bunch of tools. He fixed an outlet cover that Ben left undone for about 4 years, and hung new numbers on my house.
While Jim was hanging the house numbers, my neighbor (who moved in last summer and whom I have only met once) came over and spontaneously mowed my lawn.
In addition to those things, another neighbor has limed my lawn and taken care of other things around the exterior of my house, while on breaks from his own chemo sessions. Yes, you read that correctly. He endures his own health nightmare and still tries to help me out.
I miss Ben, but we are blessed and I’ve discovered that I can actually get a few things done for myself.